FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lepore
A team of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane forecasters and aircrew from NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center's "Hurricane Hunters" will travel to the Caribbean region the week of March 13th to help local authorities increase public awareness of the Atlantic hurricane threat. The team also will share information with their Caribbean meteorological and emergency management counterparts during the six day, six island tour.
The U.S. National Weather Service hurricane specialists are part of a United Nations-sponsored group visiting Providenciales in the Grand Turk Islands, Puerto Rico, Barbados, Trinidad, Curacao and Aruba. The participating countries are part of the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization, Region-IV which includes the United States and the countries bordering the western Atlantic.
Max Mayfield, acting director of the National Hurricane Center, a NOAA facility in Miami, noted the team is responding to the forecasting and public awareness needs of the region identified by the WMO.
"The Caribbean islands and the U.S. mainland depend on each other in a mutually supporting way," Mayfield said"The islands are sentinels which share vital weather observations with the National Hurricane Center. The Center distills their data into a forecast to more accurately predict the track and intensity of an approaching tropical cyclone. Our combined efforts allow the islands to then issue warnings as appropriate," Mayfield notes"Anything we can do now to increase the public's awareness about hurricanes helps reduce loss of life and propertyThe battle against the hurricane is really won outside the hurricane season through education and outreach programs like this."
The WMO team includes NOAA's WP-3D Lockheed "Orion" aircraft designed for hurricane research and reconnaissanceThe rugged, four-engine turboprop aircraft routinely flies into the "eye" of the storm to gather position and intensity data over the open oceanIts radar and atmospheric sounding data, combined with surface and upper-air observations from the islands, help in accurately forecasting the track and intensity of a storm
"The aircraft and Caribbean observations are the beginning of a process," says NHC's Warning Coordination Meteorologist and hurricane specialist, Stacy Stewart. "Awareness of the threat and appropriate action when the threat comes-- are public responsibilitiesThis tour gives us a chance to know our meteorological teammates and the public we collectively serve and protect.
At each location, a National Hurricane Center meteorologist will brief local officials and the media on the general impacts of hurricanes on the regionLocal (host country) National Meteorological Service representatives are expected to provide local detailsThe NOAA WP-3D "hurricane hunter" aircraft will be on display (hours indicated below) for the public, the media and school children.
* Aircraft displays can be extended up to an hour if crowds warrant it.