BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Biloxi's Hurricane Hunters are busy flying the storm and moving their planes out of harm's way. Beginning Friday, they'll be stationed at Ellington Field near Houston, Texas, and flying the storm from there.
The commander of the 403rd Air Wing at Keesler spoke to WLOX News about the challenges of watching the weather, relocating those planes and dealing with government furloughs.
"We're moving airplanes and we're flying the storm. And that's the challenge that we face right now," said Col. Frank Amodeo.
He assumed command of the 403rd less than three weeks ago. And his logistical skills are already being put to the test with the Hurricane Hunters: dealing with federal furloughs, flying a tropical storm and moving planes to a safer location.
"From a National Hurricane Center perspective and from a Gulf Coast perspective, there's going to be no difference in the ability of us to fix that storm and do what we need to do," said Col. Amodeo.
Most of the Hurricane Hunters were furloughed on Tuesday. But once this storm developed, they were quickly called back to work and are doing their duty with the promise of future pay, working for IOUs, if you will.
"Right now we're focused primarily on the mission. And we're going to take care of what we need to protect the Gulf Coast and our family here. And I'm sure all that dust is going to settle," said Commander Amodeo.
The focus now is flying Tropical Storm Karen and re-locating the Hurricane Hunter plans to Texas for safety's sake.
"This storm is headed toward us and even at 20 knots of wind or 25 miles an hour, we have to launch our airplanes from another location. So we're going to actually fly these missions out of Ellington Field in Texas. And that's going to allow us to continue to operate and provide the National Hurricane Center with the information they need," he explained.
They've been flying the storm every six hours. Beginning at 4am Friday, they'll fly it every three hours.
The commander says Ellington Field in Texas was a "logical choice" for them to relocate to fly this storm.