Hundreds Tour the Hurricane Hunter
Published 28th April 2017, 5:39pm
A huge crowd of eager residents toured a Hurricane Hunter aircraft at the Owen Roberts International Airport’s General Aviation Terminal yesterday (Wednesday, 26 April 2017), during a one day trip to promote hurricane readiness.
Around 1,000 school students and members of the public had the rare opportunity to step into the world of the Hurricane Hunters, take a tour through the plane and hear the stories from the crew on what it’s like to fly into the eye of a storm. Students were bused to the airfield from a dozen different schools.
The Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) and Hazard Management Cayman Islands (HMCI) welcomed pilots and crew, and served as co-hosts of all the day’s events. The visit was part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) 2017 Hurricane Awareness Tour, and Grand Cayman was the crew’s third stop, with two more stops to go.
The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, a flying unit of the United States Air Force, operates the WC-130J aircraft as its weather data collection platform. On the same day, NOAA hurricane experts, Director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Dr. Rick Knabb, and senior hurricane specialist Dr. Lixion Avila led a public workshop at the Ritz-Carlton. Around 40 people attended the conference which gave insight into the advancements of weather radar, how scientists collect hurricane information and alert affected regions immediately when forecast models indicate a threat. Dr. Knabb encouraged the audience to always be prepared and aware of hazards that come with hurricanes, like heavy winds and rain that can pose major threats during and after a storm. Dr. Knabb also emphasised the dangers and devastation that can be caused by storm surge.
Later in the day, radio listeners tuned-in to Radio Cayman’s Talk Today show to hear more from the experts, as they took calls and answered the public’s questions on air.
“The Hurricane Hunter visit was a major success,” Cayman Islands National Weather Service (CINWS) Director-General John Tibbetts explains. “Hundreds of people took advantage of the opportunity to view the state-of-the-art aircraft, receive first-hand knowledge from the crew and have their questions answered from the experts.”
“We are extremely grateful that Grand Cayman was a stop on this year’s hurricane awareness tour and also for the hurricane hunters, Dr. Knabbs and Dr. Avila’s willingness to share their knowledge to educate the public on hurricanes,” Hazard Management Cayman Islands Director McCleary Frederick said. “We’d also like to thank all local agencies that made this event possible.” Mr. Tibbetts added, "These overseas visits serve to demonstrate the work of meteorologists and to give the public a better understanding of what goes into forecasting and predicting hurricanes. I believe it also encourages local leaders and other key players to keep hurricane preparedness at the forefront.”
The hurricane season begins on 1 June 2017 and will come to a close on 30 November 2017.