Hurricane Hunters

People who have ever lived near the coast or an ocean may have experienced a hurricane. Hurricanes are very large storms that swirl with a very low pressure at their center. The lower the air pressure, the faster the winds blow in toward the center of the storm building force. When the winds reach a point of 75 miles per hour it is classified as a hurricane. They can easily grow to more than 400 miles in diameter.

When hurricanes form, the only way to find out information about them, that can be used to predict the behavioral patterns of additional hurricanes, is to go into the eye of the storm and measure its behavior. However, it is dangerous and only a few are able to do the work. Those that go into the storms are called hurricane hunters.

Winds blow up to 125 miles an hour, rain comes down in flood-like manner causing the streets to look like rivers, huge waves pound against the shores, and warnings are given to stay indoors. That is the perfect conditions for the hurricane hunters to go to work. They get into a specially equipped airplane and fly directly into the storm. These planes can withstand winds up to 300 miles per hour. As the planes enter the storm it passes through bands of howling winds, blinding rain and thunderstorms. The ride gets very bumpy. Often they cannot read the instruments because the plane is shaking so much. The rain gets so loud that they cannot hear each other talk and the plane is struck by lightning.

Most hurricane hunters are meteorologists too. This allows them to measure from within the storm the air pressure, temperature and wind speeds. From that information they are able to predict the path of the hurricane. These same measurements can be taken from outside of the storm, but the most helpful information comes from within the storm itself.

Hurricanes winds swirl around in the eye of the storm. The eye is a calm area in the center of the storm. As the airplane flies through the eye, a crew member will drop a device called a dropsonde from the plane. This is a small tube with an attached parachute. The tube contains measuring instruments and a radio transmitter. As the dropsonde falls towards the sea, it transmits weather data back up to the airplane. Crew members send this information to the National Hurricane Center in Miami, Florida. There the scientists use the information to determine the strength of the hurricane and predict the direction it is traveling. From this information they are able to warn others to evacuate homes near coastal areas and move to safer areas inland.

Hurricane hunters brave some of the roughest weather that exists. To get all the information needed to study storms and track them for information it is often necessary to travel through each hurricane several times before they gather enough information. Some flights last more than 11 hours, but hurricane hunters know their hard work will save lives.

The job of a hurricane hunter is dangerous and vital to measure the eye of the storm. By doing so they are able to gather the measurements needed to track and predict not only the current storm they are flying into, but also are able to predict the behavior patterns of future hurricanes. When winds are blowing, rain is falling, and waves are crashing, most people head inside to safety, but the hurricane hunter does just the opposite; they enter a special plane and fly directly into the center of the storm.

A: Hurricane pilots
B: Hurricane finders
C: Hurricane weathermen
D: Hurricane hunters

A: 25 miles per hour
B: 50 miles per hour
C: 75 miles per hour
D: 100 miles per hour

A: 100 miles
B: 200 miles
C: 300 miles
D: 400 miles

A: Eye
B: Heart
C: Center
D: Core

A: Dropsphere
B: Dropsonde
C: Dropsponder
D: Droptube

A: 1 hour
B: 8 hours
C: 11 hours
D: 24 hours

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