403rd Wing evacuates aircraft, continues to fly Hurricane Marco, Tropical Storm Laura
By Lt. Col. Marnee A.C. Losurdo, 403rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 23, 2020
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing relocated its 20 aircraft today as Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura make their way toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, a tactical airlift unit, flew their C-130J Super Hercules to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, or Hurricane Hunters, relocated their WC-130Js and operations to Atlantic Aviation Charleston International Airport, South Carolina, where they will continue to fly both storms and provide weather information to the National Hurricane Center, which greatly improves their intensity and track forecasts.
Marco became a hurricane today and is forecasted to make landfall on the Louisiana coast Monday, and Tropical Storm Laura could also become a hurricane and impact the Gulf Coast by Tuesday, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“We are moving aircraft as a precautionary measure ahead of these storms for two reasons. First, to protect the aircraft from damage, and second, so we can continue to fly storm reconnaissance missions,” said Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing vice commander. “It’s been an unprecedented year just keeping the mission going while mitigating the impacts of COVID. Now for the first time in history, we could have two hurricanes simultaneously in the Gulf of Mexico. Whatever Mother Nature and 2020 bring our way we have been able to get the mission accomplished thanks to our outstanding Airmen who ensure we are always ready.”
Hurricane and Storm Surge Warnings have been issued for portions of the Gulf Coast. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Keesler Air Force Base and the surrounding area, so the wing commander encourages all Airmen to review their hurricane preparedness strategy and take all appropriate storm response actions.
He added that only mission essential personnel are to report for work at Keesler Air Force Base Monday.
“If you have questions, please coordinate with your unit leadership and monitor official base and wing websites and social media channels,” he said.