Atmospheric rivers keep Hurricane Hunters busy
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - They hold 25 times more water than the Mississippi River, at 10,000 feet in the air. They’re called atmospheric rivers, and this winter, these storms have battered the West Coast.
The team tracking these systems is the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance team, known as the “Hurricane Hunters.” These days, they’ve traded in punching eyewalls for atmospheric river missions out west.
“It’s a weather reconnaissance mission and not just a hurricane mission,” said Col. Stuart Rubio, 403rd Wing Commander, the 53rd WRS parent group. “It’s very similar to what we do with hurricanes. They go out and drop the weather instruments into the storms, gather the data and send those off to the scientists to make those forecasts.”
This winter, they’ve been extremely busy as wave after wave of storms battered California and the Pacific Northwest.
“We’ve been talking about it for a few years, but the public is starting to understand the effects, so are the scientists, and they’re learning more every time we go out,” Rubio added.
The atmospheric river missions usually keep the team hopping from January until April.
“And that fills the gap between the end of hurricane season to the next one,” he said.
This means that once those atmospheric rivers run dry, the 53rd will be back at Keesler Air Force Base getting ready for the upcoming hurricane season.
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