One of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance C-130's took off from Keesler Air Force Base Friday morning. For ten to 12 hours, a six man crew will track the progress of Tropical Storm Erica as she spins quickly towards Mexico and Texas. About 100 miles from the storm's eye, the crew will start collecting important data.
"The things we look at are the temperature, the relative humidity, the pressure's very important and the most important's probably the winds, how strong are the winds and what can people expect as it makes landfall," Major Christa Hornbaker says.
Today, that information is gathered with tools that forecasters who followed Hurricane Camille and earlier storms could only dream about. Major Hornbaker says the improvements in computer technology make putting the data together more accurate and faster.
"And the other thing on the other end of that cycle is the computer models and there have been enormous improvements in those as well. So both better information and better processing of that information gives us a lot more capability today than we had in Camille," says Hornbaker.
Even the huge planes that fly into the storms are better equipped with sensors than the older models. Gadgets help measure the winds and gauge the temperature. All the information the crew gets goes directly to the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The advancements and new gadgets make it easier for the people there too to prepare advisories and warnings that save lives and property.