Tropical Storm Isaac is on a direct track toward Cuba and Florida, gaining clout as it creeps closer. But The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has an ace up its sleeve.
We learned via Twitter that the National Hurricane Center plans to send a high altitude Gulfstream IV jet on its first mission into a tropical storm so that they can create a better model of its trajectory.
NOAA operated a similar program — Winter Storms Reconnaisance — earlier this year from Anchorage, Alaska to track Pacific Storms. This is how they described a mission:
Data on wind speed and direction, pressure, temperature and humidity from the sensors will be monitored and quality checked by meteorologists aboard the aircraft. NFOAA then will use the information to predict the location and intensity of high winds, destructive surf conditions, severe weather and flooding rainfall caused by winter storms.
The NOAA Hurricane Hunters have operated a pair of Lockheed WP-3D Orions and a handful of smaller aircraft, all named after Muppets, for the past two decades. But the Gulfstream flies at a much higher altitude — 45,000 feet as opposed to the Orion's 27,000 — deploying a dropsonde, a little widget designed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research that transmits weather data back to the aircraft as it descends through the storm dangling from a parachute.
With all of the weird weather this summer, we could surmise that Florida stands a chance of sustaining worse than normal damage from the storm.
But we're rooting for the Sunshine State to pull through A-OK, especially since without those orange-growing devils, we'd have to look elsewhere for wacky crime stories.