NOAA 99-R232
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Frank Lepore
5/27/99

NOAA HURRICANE-HUNTING JET FLIES PRE-SEASON GULF COAST AWARENESS TOUR

A high-tech, high-flying hurricane surveillance jet and down-to-earth specialists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will promote hurricane awareness in a three-day swing, June 1-3, though six vulnerable Gulf coast communities, NOAA announced today.

The flight crew of NOAA's Gulfstream-IV jet and experts from the National Hurricane Center expect to focus attention on hurricane awareness and the technology of forecasting as they meet with local media, government officials and emergency managers in Corpus Christi and Galveston, Texas; New Orleans, La.; Mobile, Ala; and Tampa and Miami, Fla.

"Given the deadly season last year and anticipated ‘above average' number of tropical storms and hurricanes expected again this year, NOAA has increased the number of its awareness tours to include both U.S. eastern and Gulf states and the eastern and western Caribbean," said Jerry Jarrell, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center.

"The Gulfstream-IV was instrumental in helping forecasters make significantly improved forecasts and warnings for hurricanes last year, the second year the jet was operationally employed," said Capt. Donald Winter, commander of NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa, Fla. "The jet flies at high altitudes, providing previously unavailable information about the steering currents of hurricanes. This data complements the low-altitude data gathered by our P-3 Orion hurricane-hunter aircraft."

"The G-IV jet is more than a showcase for hurricane-tracking technology and a platform for research. It's important for decision-makers and emergency managers to know the capabilities and limitations of the tools and processes we use -- to inspect the technology standing between them and harm's way," Jarrell said.

"The data sent by the Gulfstream-IV improves track forecasts by defining the hurricane's large-scale environmental wind and height patterns. Ten to 20 percent improvements in track forecasting last year were reported," Jarrell said. "The economic and societal benefits of a 20 percent reduction in forecast errors is extremely large. Just one case where increased confidence in the forecasts results in not placing a major metropolitan-industrial area like Galveston/Houston; New Orleans, Tampa Bay or Miami in a warned zone could result in preparation cost savings in excess of $50 million. And this saving does not include costs from loss of business."

Accredited media are invited to visit the aircraft and interview flight crew and Jerry Jarrell during times and locations shown on the schedule below.

 

Location (Airport) Date/Arrive Depart
Brownsville, Texas Tues., June 1, 11:00 a.m. June 1, 1:30 p.m.
South Padre Island Int'l Media tours: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.

Galveston, Texas Tues., June 1, 3:00 p.m. June 2, 8:30 a.m.
Scholes Field Media tours: 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Mobile, Ala. Wed., June 2, 10:00 a.m. June 2, 2:00 p.m.
Mobile Regional Media tours: 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

New Orleans, La. Wed., June 2, 3:00 p.m. June 3, 8:30 a.m.
Lakefront Media tours: 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Tampa, Fla. Thurs., June 3, 10:00 a.m. June 3, 2:00 p.m.
Tampa International Media tours: 10:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.