NOAA Hurricane Hunter Aircraft Visits Wilmington

NOAA's Lockheed WP-3D Orion aircraft—named Miss Piggy—lands in Wilmington, NC.

May 07, 2009
Wilmington, NC

One of NOAA's two hurricane hunter aircraft visited the Wilmington airport, along with several other emergency agencies, including the National Weather Service, the Red Cross, and our own RENCI ROVER. The daylong event was open to school children in the morning, VIPs and the media in the early afternoon, and the general public in the late afternoon.


Michelle Covi explains hurricane models displayed on the plasma screen.

RENCI at ECU's participation in this event included tours of the ROVER and a plasma screen display demonstrating various hurricane and storm surge models, such as an ADCIRC model of Hurricane Isabel’s storm surge in 2003 and the flooding of Biltmore Village in Asheville caused by Hurricane Ivan in 2004. The plasma display was provided by Ken Galluppi from RENCI, and he, Tom Allen, Donna Kain, and Michelle Covi were on hand to explain the models, showcase the ROVER, and answer questions. Contacts and interviews made with educators, emergency managers, and National Weather Service leaders sparked plans for future collaborations and events.

Visitors to the event also had the opportunity to tour the interior of NOAA’s hurricane hunter aircraft—named Miss Piggy—and meet the crew. The hurricane hunters are 4-engine, turbo-prop aircraft that have been modified as research platforms. The NOAA Aircraft Operations Center uses them to fly into and study hurricanes and storms all over the world. Equipped with advanced radar and sensor technology, the hurricane hunters gather valuable oceanic and atmospheric measurements such as temperature, wind speed, and pressure from inside the hurricane. This information helps forecasters better predict the path and intensity of the storm, which means people in harm's way will have better warning. You can read more about the hurricane hunter aircraft here.


Visitors line up to tour the inside of the hurricane hunter.

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