GEMA/HS Dispatch Sept 2018 - Page 8

“Our data says ‘this is what the storm is getting ready to do’” Lt. Col. John Fox Chief Navigator 53rd WRS 8 | September 2018 working to collect the data the forecasters have requested, using the equipment outfitted on the plane or by dropping special sensors straight down through the storm. All of the information collected during the flight is sent to the National Hurricane Center in real time. “Our data, on average, improves the hurricane center’s forecasts by about 25 to 30 percent,” said Lt. Col. John Fox, Chief Navigator with the squadron. “Satellites and radar provide a high map of the US, while we provide the street map. Our data says ‘this is what the storm is getting ready to do’, and a satellite picture just isn’t going to do that.” Knowing what the storm is or isn’t going to do is crucial for making decisions such as evacuations, and protecting the potentially vulnerable people in the storm’s path. For crew members, this responsibility is a serious one. “Those of us flying in the storm, we have loved ones on the ground,” said Fox. The Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency is one of the many organizations that relies on data from the Hurricane Center to help prepare citizens on the ground for potential emergencies in a timely manner. The agency bases its decision making and action items on “h-hours”, or how long it will be before the storm hits. “The value that the human forecasting adds to all the data out there is tangible,” said Will Lanxton, GEMA/HS meteorologist. “The more a c c u r ate t he d at a t he Hurricane Center is getting, the better for everyone.” ■