NOAA 99-R227
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lepore
4/22/99

INTERNATIONAL, NATIONAL AND LOCAL TEAMWORK: GOAL OF U.S. HURRICANE SPECIALISTS' VISIT TO EAST COAST

A team of experts will address the annual threat posed by Atlantic hurricanes by visiting five storm-vulnerable East Coast communities April 26-May 1 to promote hurricane awareness, preparedness and safety, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said today.

The team includes experts from NOAA's National Weather Service, the U.S. Air Force Reserve Command's 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron's "Hurricane Hunters," Federal Emergency Management Agency and American Red Cross.

With the devastating impact of 1998's Hurricane Georges in mind, the team will meet with meteorologists, emergency managers and the public in Daytona Beach, Fla.; Myrtle Beach, S.C.; Farmingdale, N.Y. (Long Island); Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Cape Cod, Mass. The objective is to increase public awareness of the hurricane threat and strengthen national and international teamwork for storm warning and emergency response.

"We require a team approach to gather, analyze, and provide the vital information to accurately forecast hurricanes and prepare the public for their consequences," said Jerry Jarrell, team leader and director of the NWS' National Hurricane Center, a NOAA facility in Miami.

"Our hurricane forecasting operations depend on the 53rd's ‘Hurricane Hunters' to gather weather data over the open ocean," Jarrell notes. "Once this data is analyzed, forecasters at the National Hurricane Center work closely with U.S. local forecast offices and international counterparts at the Canadian weather service, Environment Canada, to warn the eastern U.S. and Canadian coasts for threatening hurricanes." FEMA and the American Red Cross are partners in the recovery and relief phases of these disasters.

"The coastal United States and Canada mutually benefit from the observation networks provided by local forecast offices and Environment Canada. Working with Air Force
reconnaissance and these local observations, the National Hurricane Center gains valuable data for our own hurricane operations as we coordinate warnings for the region," Jarrell said.

Jarrell noted several reasons for the tour, which alternates visits to East and Gulf coasts annually. "Many East Coast cities, along with their Gulf counterparts, are historically prone to hurricanes. The decades of the 1970s and 80s generated a false sense of ‘hurricane-reality' among vulnerable coastal populations. Below normal levels of activity may have led people to assume their corner of the world is invulnerable, or a near miss represents the real thing. Unfortunately, statistics have a way of catching up with us," Jarrell said.

"Collectively, we can help reduce the losses caused by these powerful tropical storms through planning, preparation and appropriate action," said Michael Armstrong, FEMA associate director. We are fortunate to be able to do so through an international partnership of the (U.S.) National Weather Service, Environment Canada, U.S. Air Force Reserve's 53rd WRS "Hurricane Hunters" and American Red Cross."

U.S. experts visited the eastern Caribbean last week on a similar tour to assess Hurricane Georges' damage. Georges caused an estimated 602 deaths and nearly $3 billion in damage in its march through the Caribbean last year.

"The most visible tool in the awareness program is the WC-130 Hurricane Hunter
aircraft, which will transport the hurricane experts during the tour. The aircraft is more than a flying scientific platform. It serves to educate. Local officials and citizens alike are invited to come aboard," said Lt. Col. Jimmy Stewart, 53rd WRS director of operations.

The following is the itinerary for the East Coast Hurricane Awareness Tour:

Location (Airport) Date / Arrive Depart
Daytona Beach, Fla. Monday, April 26 9:30 a.m. April 27 8:30 a.m.
Public Tours of aircraft 1:00 p.m.- 5:00 p.m.

Myrtle Beach, SC Tuesday, April 27 9:50 a.m. April 28 7:00 a.m.
Myrtle Beach International Public Tours 2:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.

Farmingdale, Long Island Wednesday, April 28 9:00 a.m. April 29 7:00 a.m.
Farmingdale-Republic Public Tours 3:00 p.m.- 6:00 p.m.

Halifax, Nova Scotia Thursday, April 29 10:00 ADT April 30 7:15 a.m.
Public Tours 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.

Cape Cod, Mass. Friday, April 30 9:00 a.m. May 1 11:00 a.m
(Otis, AFB) Public Tours 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m

Note to Editors: Additional background information and en route updates are available on the National Hurricane Center's Web site at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov and 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron: http://www.hurricanehunters.com