The anticipation of a hurricane is excruciating. Born in a hurricane nursery (actual term) off the coast of Africa, a storm marches across the Atlantic, growing stronger while forecasters watch anxiously. If those forecasters don’t call it right, if they don’t nail down where the hurricane might make landfall and with what degree of intensity, people can lose their lives.
Luckily, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a crack team of meteorologists that fly not near a hurricane, but right into the damn thing with a repurposed submarine-hunting aircraft. If you think you’ve experienced bad turbulence, you’ve never flown into a hurricane, which bounces the plane around with such violence, the crew spends a good amount of time in zero G.
All the while, very expensive and well-designed instruments are measuring things like wind speed and humidity, while doppler radar takes what is essentially a flying CT scan of the hurricane. Every bit of data combines to give forecasters a highly granular understanding of the storm, and with that they can save lives on the ground.
To learn more about how hurricanes form, how climate change might be affecting them, and how NOAA will be ready to fly into the most monster of monster storms, WIRED sat down with research meteorologist Jason Dunion in the video above.