WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — As part of the efforts to collect scientific data on hurricanes, and accurately forecast the path and strength of the storms, hurricane hunters from NOAA fly directly into storms.
One of those hunters, Nick Underwood, flew into the strongest part of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday. He said it was the most intense storm he has ever flown into.
“So we were getting the usual up and down motion, but we were also getting a lot of side to side, which is really unsettling when you’re in an aircraft,” Underwood said. “There was a lot of lightning which was something that I’d never really seen before in a storm of that size.”
Born and raised in West Virginia, Underwood is an aerospace engineer and hurricane hunter with NOAA. He has made 76 flights into 22 hurricanes in his career, collecting data that the national hurricane center uses for forecasting.
“We’re launching data collecting instruments all throughout the storm, that are gathering temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed and wind direction data,” he said.
That data is used to forecast the direction and intensity of storms and issue watches and warnings back on the ground.