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Keeping Tabs on Ida: WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft from Air Force Reserve Command’s 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., were flying nonstop in the Gulf of Mexico as of Tuesday to collect critical data on Ida, a major storm raging in the Gulf of Mexico. "Directly measuring the conditions within the storm provides emergency managers with the best information possible," said Lt. Col. Jonathan Talbot, the unit’s chief aerial reconnaissance weather officer. Indeed, data from the WC-130Js significantly improve National Hurricane Center forecast accuracy, thereby helping local Gulf Coast communities to plan better. As of Tuesday afternoon, Ida had weakened into a tropical depression and was making its way eastward from the Gulf over the Florida Panhandle. The WC-130Js, along with Keesler’s C-130Js, evacuated the base on Monday for locations in Texas to avoid the brunt of the storm. (Keesler report by Lt. Col. Chad E. Gibson)