5 September, 2016 12:32

NASA Global Hawk makes its way over Hurricane Hermine
Posted: Sep 1, 2016 8:18 PM
By Abbey Smith
(WALLOPS ISLAND, Va.) – UPDATE: Around 5 p.m. Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Hurricane Center issued an advisory upgrading "Tropical Storm Hermine" to hurricane status.

As Hermine inches its way closer to Delmarva, NOAA Lead Scientist Gary Wick says folks at NASA Global Hawk Operations Center on Wallops Island are keeping a close eye.

"The Global Hawk is a high altitude unmanned aircraft," said Wick. "It flies at altitudes up to 60,000 ft. and can fly for periods of 24 hours or more."

Wick says the NASA Global Hawk has been on Wallops Island since the middle of August. He says it took off for Hermine Wednesday night and is expected to return Thursday evening around 10 p.m.

As the only aircraft that can fly above a hurricane like Hermine, Wick says the NASA Global Hawk allows scientists and meteorologists a front row seat to Mother Nature’s finest. One direct way it measures the weather is by releasing dropsondes, which are small weather instruments about the size of a paper towel roll.

"And those are actually released from the aircraft and they fall down through the center of the storm, measuring the temperature, humidity and winds as it falls," said Wick.

Wick says the NASA Global Hawk also possesses a Doppler precipitation radar that measures precipitation and winds, as well as a microwave instrument that measures temperature and humidity.

"We get a vertical measurement through the entire storm," said Wick.

As folks on Delmarva look ahead wondering how they should spend their Labor Day weekend, Wick says Hermine’s unpredictable behavior makes it still a little too early to tell.

"Right now it doesn’t look too bad for the area here but we’ll see how the models continue to change over the next day."

The full video can be found at: http://www.wrdetv.com/index.cfm?ref=60200&ref2=5072

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