Scientists have filmed an astonishing video of the interior of Hurricane Florence, as the storm bears down on North and South Carolina.
The footage was captured by one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Hurricane Hunters, planes given whimsical nicknames that chase down storms – “Kermit” and “Miss Piggy”. The aircraft are four-engine turboprops, designed to not only survive in storms but also study them.
One of them, Kermit, recently flew through Hurricane Florence – and it captured some rather incredible footage in the process. Below, you can see a time-lapse of the moment it entered the eye of the Category 4 hurricane.
The footage was captured on Monday, September 10, as the storm bears down on mainland US, first heading towards North Carolina but now possibly veering slightly more towards South Carolina. The National Hurricane Center said it had winds of 210 kilometers (130 miles) per hour and a threat of “life-threatening storm surge and rainfall.”
There is now a hurricane warning in effect from the Santee River in South Carolina to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. More than a million people have been urged to evacuate from the storm’s path. It is expected to make landfall Thursday morning.
“Preparations to protect life and property should be rushed to completion,” the Center noted on Twitter. The storm is expected to bring catastrophic flooding and rain – something that might not be music to the ears of North Carolina lawmakers who banned laws based on the science of sea levels.
NOAA’s Hurricane Hunters are designed to tell us more about storms like these. The planes fly for between eight and 12 hours at a time, using an array of equipment to study wind strength (by dropping GPS instruments through the clouds), ocean temperature, and more.
Planes “are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight,” NOAA noted, which is how these aircraft can make it through. It’s wind shear – a sudden change in wind speed and direction – that is the main problem. But they do their best to look out for these regions and fly around them.
NOAA also released another video shot from Kermit, giving a more prolonged look at the eye of the storm. Here conditions can seem oddly calm, while the storm rages around the edges.
The videos reiterate how powerful and dangerous these storms can be. And while the Carolinas prep for Florence tomorrow, there are others in the Atlantic – and a tropical storm near Hawaii – that also pose danger as 2018’s Atlantic hurricane season reaches its peak.
[H/T: Live Science, NPR]