Hurricane Hunters close out 2015 season
By Master Sgt. Brian J. Lamar, 403rd Wing Public Affairs
/ Published January 22, 2016
KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
The Air Force Reserve's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron "Hurricane Hunters" closed out the year with a week of packing, loading and shipping equipment back to Keesler Air Force Base from their forward operating base at the Henry Rohlsen Airport in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
According to Lt. Col. Erik Olson, the mission commander for the "Roll Up" mission, everything went smooth and he expects no major issues when the Hurricane Hunters return in May.
During the rollup, 41st Aerial Port Squadron and 403rd Maintenance Group personnel packed up everything from generators to tools. The Citizen Airmen worked to clean out the forward operating base hangar.
"A lot of this equipment has to go back to be serviced and swapped out in May," said Chief Master Sgt. Vincent Armada, 403rd Maintenance Group superintendent.
The equipment was brought out in May for the "Roll Out" in preparation for the hurricane season, which began June 1, allowing for 53rd WRS crews to quickly respond to storms in the Atlantic Ocean.
Even though the Atlantic basin storm activity was very light for storm missions due to the El Nino weather patterns in the Pacific Ocean, the Hurricane Hunters had a busy year. Two records were broken this year.
"We flew Hurricane Patricia, the most powerful storm ever recorded," said 1st Lt. Leesa Froelich, the aerial reconnaissance weather officer on the flight.
The hunters also flew a record-breaking six named storms in support of the Central Pacific Hurricane Center, according to John Pavone, a supervisory meteorologist and aircraft coordinator with the Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination All Hurricanes at the National Hurricane Center in Miami.
As the planes began flying away to wrap up the 2015 season, the winter-storm season was already revving up with a taskings flown by the squadron Jan. 13, 21, 22 and 23. The squadron gathers weather data that is sent to the NHC that's used in forecast models produced by the National Center for Environmental Prediction.