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Hurricane Hunters flying out of Niagara Falls

Posted: 6:39 PM, Sep 05, 2016
Updated: 2016-09-06 16:07:32-04

Hurricane Hunters are flying missions out of Niagara Falls this week. They returned from a 9.2 hour mission inside Post Tropical Cyclone Hermine Monday afternoon.

"We're out there flying to find exactly where the center of the storm is," said Lieutenant Leesa Froelich. "A lot of times depending on the storm and time of day, you'll see a lot of the winds on the surface. You'll see the turbulence water that are below and sometimes you will feel that turbulence as you're going through it. Sometimes it can be really calm."

Hurricane Hunters fly to collect data that satellites cannot.

"The dropsonde that we release collects a bunch of information as it falls, between winds, pressure, temperature," said Lieutenant Froelich. "All that information is ingested into the model and from there they can determine where this storm is going to go a lot more accurately."

Lieutenant Froelich says depending on the storm, they can fly the aircraft anywhere from 500 to 10,000 feet.

"When we're going through what we call an invest, when it's first developing, we'll go between 500 to 1,500 feet and as it gets stronger we're going to climb a little bit," said Lieutenant Froelich. "For a tropical storm, we go in at 5,000 feet and that's the altitude we were at today. For a hurricane we go up to 10,000 feet."

Lieutenant Froelich says their average mission can be anywhere from 9 to 11 hours. She says they usually bring three aircrafts and 60 to 70 people with them. Most of the crew knows a lot about meteorology.

They took Senior Airman Joshua Williams along. He is a video broadcaster for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

"It was a long flight," said Senior Airman Williams. "If you can imagine going in a car ride for 8 to 12 hours, that's a long car ride. They're doing this at various altitudes under the stress of turbulence as well as knowing the importance of their mission."

It was his first time riding along with the Hurricane Hunters.

"You realize the power of Mother Nature when you look down into the ocean floor, and you see white turbulence waves forming," said Senior Airman Williams.

They expect to stay in Niagara Falls until Thursday, and fly the aircrafts every six hours.