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Hurricane Hunters fly Joaquin

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- An aircrew with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters," an Air Force Reserve unit assigned to the 403rd Wing at Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, flew their third mission into Hurricane Joaquin early this morning.

The crew measured strong flight-level winds of 83 miles per hour, surface winds of 76 miles per hour and a surface pressure of 972 millibars and found an eye 48-miles wide, said Lt. Col. Jon Talbot, 53d WRS chief meteorologist.

The National Hurricane Center upgraded Joaquin to a Category 1 storm this morning based on the data provided by the Hurricane Hunters. The third hurricane of the Atlantic Season is located a few hundred miles east-northeast of the central Bahamas and has potential to affect the U.S. East Coast, according to the NHC forecast. 

During a mission, the aircraft collects weather data such as temperature, wind speed, wind direction, humidity, and surface pressure. Aircrews fly through the eye of a storm four to six times to locate the low-pressure center and circulation of the storm. During each pass through the eye, they release a dropsonde, which collects weather data on its descent to the ocean surface, specifically gathering data on the surface winds and pressure. This data the 53rd WRS collects during their flights is transmitted via satellite communication every 10 minutes to the NHC to assist them with their forecasts and storm warnings.

The squadron is scheduled to fly missions continually over the next several days while Joaquin remains a threat, said Talbot, who is part of a unit that is the only Department of Defense organization still flying into tropical storms and hurricanes, a mission that began in 1944.Hurricane Hunters fly Joaquin