How Do Hurricanes Form, and Who Would Fly Into One?

Scenes from a Category 5 storm.

Irma as it bore down on the Caribbean on September 5. (NOAA)
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As Florida and the Caribbean brace for the impact of Category 5 Hurricane IrmaNOAA “hurricane hunters” have been flying into this monster storm to collect data. Here’s a clip from their first flight last Sunday:  

NOAA flies a pair of Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft and a Gulfstream-IV on these missions, all of them named after Muppet characters.

Here are two dramatic video clips from another flight by NOAA42 (“Kermit”)  yesterday:

Their view out the side windows:

What kind of people fly into a hurricane? Read an interview we ran in 2012 with NOAA’s Randy TeBeest. 

And how do such monster storms get started in the first place? All explained in this feature from our August 2015 issue

Finally, this animated view of Irma’s swirling eye, taken by the GOES 16 satellite, shows you what 185 mph winds look like. 

As Hurricane Irma heads for Florida, Tropical Storm Jose is already powering up in the eastern Atlantic. (NOAA/NESDIS/CIRA/Colorado State Univ.)
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