A breathtaking video posted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a government “Hurricane Hunter” plane entering the eye of Hurricane Florence on Monday.
The Hollywood-action-worthy video shows the plane straining against choppy winds and grey clouds for several seconds — only to emerge into a beautifully calm, open area with blue skies.
Time-lapse video of a #NOAA WP-3D Hurricane Hunter (#NOAA42) flight into Hurricane #Florence on Sept. 10, 2018. Get the latest on the storm at https://t.co/MlZk25kG0d. Credit: Nick Underwood/NOAA pic.twitter.com/FQ3RJMKVUU— NOAA Aircraft Operations Center (@NOAA_HurrHunter) September 11, 2018
The video was filmed by Nick Underwood, an aerospace engineer and hurricane hunter.
This is probably the coolest thing I?ve filmed. https://t.co/xdXgLlK1Re— Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 11, 2018
Underwood posted additional footage on his own Twitter account.
Here's an eyewall penetration into Hurricane #Florence from yesterday, September 10th, 2018. "Wall" is definitely the correct term because once you're in the eye, the only way back out is to smack right through it. pic.twitter.com/caeUDkyLoI— Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 11, 2018
Additionally, the more data we collect, the more scientists have to work with to predict future storms.— Nick Underwood (@TheAstroNick) September 11, 2018
This is your tax dollars funding a super important scientific and public safety mission.
Thanks for coming to my TED talk. pic.twitter.com/rih0ItoX0Q
As for the plane itself, one might wonder: How did this plane not get ripped apart by those winds?
“Planes are generally not destroyed by strong winds while in flight,” officials wrote. “Airliners routinely fly in jet streams with winds exceeding 150 mph over the US during the winter. It’s the shear, or sudden change in horizontal or vertical winds, that can destroy an aircraft, or cause its loss of control.”
So what about the pilots and anyone else aboard the plane?
“NOAA pilots and crew routinely (but never casually) fly in the high-wind environment of the hurricane and don’t fear it tearing the plane apart,” officials wrote. “However, they are always monitoring for ‘hot spots’ of severe weather and shear that they can often identify on radar and avoid if it’s too severe.”
According to Underwood, hurricane hunting missions generally include a dozen or more people, with a typical mission lasting eight to 10 hours. The mission’s objective is to collect data that feeds into computer models that predict the storm’s path and intensity, Underwood wrote.