Into The Eye Of The Storm | Episode 18

With Nick Underwood, Aerospace Engineer /Hurricane Hunter | ‎NOAA: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season has been so intense, it just ran out of storm names – it also means this has been a demanding season for a team of dedicated researchers that get closer to the storms than any others on the planet. Hurricane hunters intentionally fly into the most violent storms on earth – and 2020 has seen a record number of them.

“It’s like a wooden roller coaster.” Says Nick Underwood, an aerospace engineer with the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “a lot of vibrations and sometimes you will be tossed to the side.” Underwood flies into hurricanes to gather data by releasing specialized electronics. Dropping at a speed of 2,500 feet per minute, the components provide a real-time analysis of what the storms are doing, where they’re heading and how severe they may become.

Strap in, and join us as we fly “Into the Eye of the Storm“, on this episode of the Big Blue Marble.


Aerospace Engineer Nick Underwood prepares a dropsonde at the Airborne Vertical  Atmospheric Profiling System (AVAPS) station on NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion N43RF, nicknamed “Miss Piggy,” during a July 31, 2020 evening flight into Hurricane Isaias.

[Photo: Mike Mascaro / NOAA]


A closeup look at a dropsonde capsule

[Photo: NOAA]


Inside the eye of CAT3 Hurricane Laura as seen from the flight station of NOAA WP-3D  Orion N42RF Kermit during the morning mission Aug. 25, 2020

[Photo:Lt. Josh Rannenberg, NOAA Corps]


Steady Turbulence as the team leaves the eye of Hurricane Laura (Cat 4) on NOAA WP 3D Orion N42RF Kermit during the morning mission Aug. 26, 2020

[Video Credit: Lt Cmdr Doremus NOAA Corps]

Full Interview Transcript