FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lepore, Randee Exler
U.S. HURRICANE EXPERTS VISIT CENTRAL AMERICA/CARIBBEAN NATIONS
As Central America and the Caribbean continue
their difficult recovery from Hurricanes Georges and Mitch, National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane specialists
are crossing international boundaries March 15-19 to lend their
expertise to local forecast and safety initiatives.
"As hurricanes approach the United States, we benefit from the observation networks and forecast efforts of other countries," said team leader Jerry Jarrell, director of the National Weather Service's Hurricane Center, a NOAA facility in Miami. "Open lines of communication allow us to gain valuable data for our own hurricane operations and lend our expertise to our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean," he said.
According to Jarrell, aviation, marine, tourism, and other interests worldwide have a stake in accurate hurricane prediction. In fact, the National Hurricane Center is designated by the U.N.'s World Meteorological Organization as a regional center for tropical storm warning and is mandated by the U.S. government to coordinate operations with other countries.
"From a world perspective, weather knows no boundaries," Jarrell said. "We mutually benefit by visiting Caribbean nations. The weather they have today is the weather that reaches our shores a day or two later."
U.S. hurricane experts visited Central
America last year and coordinated services with Nicaragua and
Honduras, the two countries most impacted by Hurricane
"As we revisit the areas ravaged by Hurricanes George and Mitch, it's useful to gain the perspective of the scientists who were there," the NOAA hurricane specialist continued. "Collectively, we can help reduce the losses caused by powerful tropical events. We are fortunate to have these countries as part of the international team."
A visible tool in the awareness program is the NOAA P3 Hurricane Hunter aircraft which will transport the hurricane experts during the tour. "The aircraft serves as a flying classroom," Jarrell said, "and local officials and citizens alike are invited to come aboard." Famous for flying into hurricanes, the four-engine turbo-prop is flown by pilots of the NOAA Commissioned Corps and based at NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.
The National Hurricane Center will conduct three hurricane awareness tours this season. In addition to this week's tour, the hurricane experts will return to English-speaking Carribean countries next month. Also scheduled is a tour of Eastern U.S. cities and Canada.
Following is an itinerary for Central American-Caribbean Awareness Tour (March 15-20, 1999):
Additional background information and en route updates are available on the National Hurricane Center's Web site at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/abouttour.html