Storm scientists are swooping through Hurricane Florence as it increases in size and heads toward landfall on the East Coast later this week.
On Monday, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) team flew its four-propeller P-3 craft through the eye of Hurricane Florence, capturing stunning video of the Category 4 storm.
In the reprieve of the storm’s eye, NOAA hurricane scientist Heather Holbach captured Atlantic blue skies above Florence’s towering vertical walls from the hurricane hunter aircraft.
A fleet of federal hurricane hunting craft — including planes and personnel from NASA, the Air Force, and NOAA — take flights directly through hurricanes to give storm forecasters an improved idea of what’s churning inside the storm, and what might happen next.
Specifically, hurricane hunting planes like the P-3 release small cardboard tubes holding environmental sensors, called dropsondes, which then parachute through the violent storms, and send data back to the aircraft.
In the case of these recent flights, the hurricane hunters helped confirm that “Florence is expected to be an extremely dangerous major storm through Thursday night,” according to the National Hurricane Center.
The storm is forecast to approach the Carolinas Thursday, and then make landfall late Thursday night through early Friday.
Once the storm hits land, its powerful 130-mile per hour winds are projected to lessen to still potent 50-mph winds over the next day.
But then, perhaps the greatest threat will remain.
Florence is expected to stall over the region, bringing a deluge of 15 to 20 inches of water to some areas, according to the most recent predictions.
As NOAA scientist James Kossin previously emphasized, “Nothing good can come of a slower storm.”