Hurricane Hunters wrap up atmospheric river season

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Christopher Carranza
  • 403rd Wing Public Affairs

Three WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft from the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron “Hurricane Hunters” returned from the West Coast to Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., March 25, 2021. The 403rd Wing’s Hurricane Hunters wrapped up the atmospheric river season in partnership with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aircraft Operations, with a total of 46 flights.

During AR missions, the 53rd WRS fly up to 30,000 feet to capture as much atmospheric data as possible. The data compiled by dropsondes can create a vertical profile from the aircraft to the surface of the ocean for the research team and forecasters to input in their models.

According to Scripps Institution of Oceanography, atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands in the atmosphere that transport water vapor, like a river in the sky. When an atmospheric river makes landfall, it often releases this water vapor as rain or snow. Atmospheric rivers are responsible for up to half of California’s annual precipitation, and can cause flood damages averaging $1.1 billion annually throughout the West.