A WC-130J Super Hercules from the 53rd Weather
Reconnaissance Squadron, also known as the Hurricane Hunters, taxis to the runway on Aug.
25, 2019 at Keesler AFB, Miss. The Hurricane Hunters
staged their aircraft in Curacao and began flying into then-Tropical Storm
Dorian on the evening of Aug. 26. Air Force photo by Jessica L. Kendziorek.
Air Force bases across Florida are preparing for Hurricane Dorian, which is expected to make landfall in the US on Sept. 2 as a Category 4 storm.
The National Hurricane Center on Aug. 29 said there is an “increasing likelihood of life-threatening storm surge along portions of the Florida east coast,” and that the risk of devastating winds is still growing. It’s too soon to say where the worst damage will occur.
The graphic above, published by the National Hurricane Center, shows the hurricane's projected path as of 11 a.m. Atlantic Standard Time on Aug. 29, 2019. Graphic: National Hurricane Center
Patrick AFB, Fla., declared Hurricane Condition 4, and is expecting that surface winds in excess of 50 knots could hit the base and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. HURCON alerts are on a 1-5 scale, with five being the least urgent and one being an imminent storm within 12 hours.
“Base personnel and residents should take action to prepare for the possible arrival of hurricane-force winds,” the 45th Space Wing at Patrick said. “This will include securing anything outside of buildings and anything outside of your on-base residence.”
The wing, which sits east of Orlando, called on employees to work with their chain of command to make sure they can both prepare on base and at home.
Homestead ARB, Fla., posted Aug. 29 that it is at HURCON 3, indicating that destructive winds are possible south of Miami within 48 hours.
On Florida’s west coast near Tampa, MacDill AFB said its base leaders are meeting twice a day to prepare for the storm and urged personnel to stay in touch for weather updates. The base sat at HURCON 5 as of Aug. 28 and is evacuating some of its KC-135s to McConnell AFB, Kan., as the storm approaches.
The Air Force’s Hurricane Hunters with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron at Keesler AFB, Miss., flew into the storm earlier this week after deploying to Curacao. Two WC-130Js and one C-130J are operating at the island, with the two WCs flying repeated missions into the eye of the storm, Keesler said in an Aug. 27 release. Airmen are using dropsondes—airdropped weather instruments that collect data on storm conditions and send information back to the aircraft. The aircraft were expected to relocate from Curacao to Homestead.
Eglin Air Force Base and Hurlburt Field in the Florida Panhandle said on Facebook they do not expect to be affected by Dorian. Tyndall AFB, Fla., has not indicated any major storm preparations.
Florida is no stranger to hurricanes, and the Air Force is in the early stages of a multiyear recovery effort costing billions of dollars after Category 5 Hurricane Michael directly hit Tyndall Air Force Base in the Florida Panhandle last October. Following that storm and other severe weather events that affected military facilities, the Air Force is taking steps to better prepare for natural disasters and protect its people and resources.
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