Footage by the hurricane hunters flying directly into the eye of hurricane Dorian was released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Hurricane Dorian was 50 to 60 miles off the coast of South Carolina and footage of the storm was shot by Lt. Kevin Doremus from the cockpit of the NOAA aircraft, named Kermit. This aircraft is a four-engine Lockheed WP-3D Orion.
Along with cleverly naming one aircraft “Kermit” the other WP-3D aircraft that was involved was named “Miss Piggy”. The 2 NOAA aircraft have performed regular flights into Dorian to collect valuable data which helps forecasters to make better predictions and clearer understanding of the storm.
These planes are designed to measure pressure changes, wind speed, humidity, and other factors during this very long mission which lasted for more than 12 hours.
There is a shot of the planes going through the powerful winds and driving rain of the eyewall before entering into the eye of the storm which was very calm with amazing clear blue skies.
The eye of the storm varied in size from approximately 50 to 60 miles wide. Doremus told Newsweek the eye was a lot smaller than the previous fights into the storm, and in some cases was only 5 miles wide!
After that, the storm grew to more than 60 miles wide. The Washington Post reported the storm increased in size with hurricane-force winds and tropical storms that extended outward by 25 to 220 miles from the center.
During the following Thursday, Nick Underwood, hurricane hunter, posted a video of an NOAA plane flying into Dorian’s eye that showed an enormous “stadium” effect that can be clearly seen.
The eyes of hurricanes, as well as cyclones, usually have traits of “stadium” effects because the clouds of the eyewall are curved in a way that actually resembles an arena or stadium appearance.
Flying through the eyewall of a hurricane where the winds are at their strongest can be very dangerous. The NOAA planes are not normally harmed by the strong winds, which is absolutely incredible.
Flying Kermit and Miss Piggy
It’s quite common that airliners fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 miles an hour over the US during the winter months. It’s the shear or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds that can harm an aircraft, causing the planes to lose control.
NOAA pilots and crew routinely, but never casually, fly in high-wind environments of hurricanes and are not worried about their planes being torn apart. NOAA aircraft do not fly through tornadoes. However, pilots and crews are constantly monitoring for any hot spots of severe weather and shear which they can pick up on with radar, especially to avoid really serious situations.
Lt. Kevin Doremus, referring to Dorian, said the storm was actually pretty easy to fly through when he captured his video. The storm was slowly deteriorating from a Category 3 to a Category 2 and there were very little up and downdrafts that are normally found in a Category 4 and 5 or rapidly intensifying storms.
They had been watching Dorian from a tropical depression up to a Category 5 and said this was, without a doubt, the smoothest flight they had been on since previous flights that entered the storm a few days before.
On Friday, at 5 AM EDT, Dorian was 25 miles east of Cape Lookout in North Carolina with sustainable wind speeds of 90 miles per hour. It was moving northeast around 14 miles per hour and was expected to remain in motion through Saturday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
According to a statement, Dorian remained a powerful hurricane while it moved along the North Carolina coast over the next several hours. It was forecasted to become a tropical cyclone with hurricane-force winds through Saturday night as it headed to Nova Scotia.