NEW YORK --
National Hurricane Preparedness Week is dedicated to promoting public knowledge of what to do before storms arrive.
A central part of National Hurricane Preparedness Week is the Hurricane Awareness Tour and while hurricanes form every year, this was the first HAT since 2019.
The tour featured Air Force Reserve 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron and NOAA hurricane hunting aircraft. The 53rd WRS’ WC-130J Super Hercules aircraft along with NOAA’s Beechcraft King Air 350 CER, the Gulfstream IV-SP, and the WP-3D Orion aircraft attracted hundreds of people at each HAT event.
A number of government agencies and HAT partners took part in the events that gave opportunities for officials, along with national and local media representatives to meet Hurricane Hunter crews and tour the aircraft with the purpose of promoting hurricane preparedness and awareness before the 2022 hurricane season begins.
The HAT in past years would alternate visits between five or six cities along the East Coast or the along the Gulf Coast Region, but the 2022 tour conducted two events near Washington D.C. and in New York City. This year’s scheduled tour stops were the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, in Arlington, Virginia, near Washington D.C. and the John F. Kennedy International Airport in the Big Apple.
David Bibo, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Office of Response and Recovery, spoke at both events and noted that timing makes hurricane preparation a priority.
“With less than a month until the official start of hurricane season we encourage everyone, not just those along the coast, to identify your risks, make a plan, and stay informed about what could be coming,” he said.
Bibo encouraged everyone to sign up now for emergency alerts with the applications available from FEMA website, including the FEMA app, and use Ready.gov to better understand what people should have in their emergency kits how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
As a lead for the HAT, Kenneth Graham, National Hurricane Center Director for NOAA’s National Weather Service, who was accompanied by several NHC hurricane experts, emphasized the preparedness message.
“This is Hurricane Awareness week so let’s use this week to get ready, to spread the word to let everybody know that there are resources. Together we can be prepared for hurricane season,” said Graham.
Graham also spoke of how NOAA, FEMA, the Hurricane Hunters and other agencies put so much effort to get people away from hurricanes, and yet the Hurricane Hunters fly right into storms to get the needed data to save lives.
“You are our heroes, absolute heroes going toward those storms. I can tell you that the data they give us is instrumental in making our models 10 to 15 percent better in track prediction, and 15 to 20 percent better for intensity projections,” Graham said.
Dedication to gathering storm data was echoed by Maj. Christopher Dyke, a 53rd WRS aerial reconnaissance weather officer who gave tours of the WC-130J aircraft. “We’re continuously flying though a storm. For each flight, we spend six to eight hours criss-crossing through a storm. Whatever gets us the best data,” Dyke said.
While Dyke has experience on the HAT, this was the first time for 1st Lt. Nate Wordal, a 53rd WRS pilot on the tour. Wordal joined the squadron last year where he experienced his first hurricane season as a Hurricane Hunter. He said that he enjoyed meeting people who were curious about his unique job.
“It’s great to represent what we do to the public,” Wordal said. “It’s even better when our profession influences people and encourages them to prepare for hurricane season, not only this year but every year. Nothing beats being ready.”
While seeing Hurricane Hunting aircraft and talking to their crews were a big attraction for the hundreds of visitors each day to the Hurricane Awareness Tour, the big message was Hurricane Preparedness.
For more information on hurricane preparedness, including tips on how to be ready for serious weather you can visit Ready.gov, FEMA.gov, and NOAA.gov. There are downloadable apps that are helpful to prepare yourself and your loved ones.