BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The flight line at Keesler Air Force Base looks empty as the planes that normally park there are on a turbulent journey.
Data collected as Hurricane Hunters fly through Irma, and two other hurricanes, will help forecasters determine the power, and the eventual path of the monster storms.
The description of what it's like flying through a category five hurricane is what Kendall Dunn experienced on his Wednesday mission into Irma.
"Imagine the worst thunderstorm you could fly in being 200 miles an hour and then flying in it for two miles, and then you pop out in the middle and it's a very clear and beautiful center," said Dunn.
Lt. Col. Sean Cross coordinates flight crews and missions from Keesler, and from a forward deployed location in the Caribbean. His teams collect critical storm data that might save lives.
"We have a deployed location on the island of Curacao just off of Venezuela," said Cross. "We have three aircraft there with about 60 people and maintenance personnel and parts, everything that it takes to sustain operations for an indefinite amount of time. They are currently flying Irma and Jose at the same time ."
It's Irma that looks to be the most dangerous threat to the U.S. And when it makes landfall in Florida, that's when Keesler becomes the base of operations.
"Starting this Saturday, we're going to start flying Irma, right here out of Biloxi Mississippi," said Cross. When we start flying it from here, we will assume all operations of Hurricane Irma at that time.
When that happens, a flight line that looks so quiet now will once again be buzzing with activity as hurricane hunter planes fly in and out of the Irma.