Hurricane hunters fly into NC to talk preparedness


RALEIGH, NC (WWAY) — Hurricane season is just a few weeks away. Governor Roy Cooper and emergency officials talked Tuesday about getting ready.

Raleigh was one of several stops on the Hurricane Awareness Tour happening during Hurricane Preparedness Week.

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“I’ve flown through the eye wall of a hurricane about 45 times,” Brian Schroeder, Air Force Reserve meteorologist, said.

Brian Schroeder is a hurricane hunter. He and other crew members spoke with the public about what it takes fly into tropical systems. The public was invited to take a tour inside the aircraft to see what it is like while on board.

While in flight, meteorologists collect information like temperature, humidity, pressure, wind speed and direction. Crews also use an instrument called a “dropsonde” to measure those parameters at lower levels of the storm.

“The data that we collect goes into the models it also just simply looked at by the forecasters at the hurricane center so that they can make a more precise forecast on where the storm is going,” Schroeder said.

Forecasting the most accurate track is key especially for emergency management.

“It’s helps me do two things,” said NC Emergency Management Dr. Michael Sprayberry. “I don’t put response resources in the path of the hurricane but it also allows me to stage resources nearby so I can get them there very quickly on the hurricane passes.

Just as we saw later year, Hurricane Matthew was difficult to forecast and left an impact many are still dealing with now.

Governor Roy Cooper said Matthew did an estimated $4.8 billion in damages across 50 counties in our state.

Major Lucas Caulder flew into Matthew more than 25 times.

“It’s the most rigorous one that I have flown in as a pilot,” Caulder, Air Force Reserve pilot, said.

Every storm is different and experts say each highlights what can be done better for the next.

“One thing we definitely learned in Matthew is that we need to give even more visibility to the threat of heavy rain fall and inland flooding,” National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb said.

The official start to the hurricane season is on June 1, but now is the time to make a plan and be prepared for whenever the next one hits.

“All the things you need to get ready for the next hurricane, survive, recover afterwards are a lot more difficult afterwards,” Knabb said.

If you are looking for tips on how to prepare your family, join WWAY Thursday at the Cape Fear Preparedness and Safety Expo. It’s from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Coastline Convention Center. There will be interactive displays, information, and our newscast live.