NOAA Aircraft Not Available During Hurricane Landfall


It’s a good thing DeSantis knows what he’s doing because, man, the Biden administration really dropped the ball on this one. So, right as Hurricane Idalia was about to hit Florida’s Big Bend region, guess what? Reports started coming in that a crucial tool was unavailable. Can you believe it?

You probably could.

The plane called Miss Piggy, operated by NOAA, is part of a fleet of three aircraft. These planes collect storm information that’s super important for forecasters. But here’s the thing, leading up to Idalia’s arrival, Miss Piggy was the only plane available to the National Hurricane Center. The other two planes, Kermit and Gonzo, were out of commission for repairs. Without these hurricane hunters in the air, forecasters had a harder time giving reliable watches, warnings, and evacuation decisions.

Then shortly before landfall Miss Piggy had a generator issue and was grounded.

The loss of the aircraft is a significant concern, particularly considering that we are in the early stages of hurricane season. These planes typically provide forecasters with invaluable data, such as wind direction and speed, pressure, humidity and temperature readings, as well as precipitation and wind measurements. All of this information is crucial in determining the intensity, trajectory, and potential impacts of a storm.

Due to the grounded aircraft, the National Hurricane Center had to rely on alternative data-collection tools and systems. NOAA confirmed that they were utilizing various alternatives, including satellites and the National Weather Service’s radar network, to assess the situation, among other systems.

The challenges arising from the grounding of the previous aircraft highlight the urgency of replacing these aging models. Both P-3s have been in service since the 1970s, while the single Gulfstream jet took its maiden flight in the mid-1990s. The demanding nature of flying through a hurricane places immense strain on both the aircraft and the crew operating it. It’s unfortunate that we are allocating our resources to support Eastern Europe.

Consider this: in the twenty-four hours leading up to landfall, forecasters and DeSantis relied on second-hand data. Reflect on the fact that a projected Category 4 hurricane was about to strike a major metropolitan area, and the best tools at our disposal were unavailable.

A competent administration would have ensured that these essential aircraft were in optimal condition before the start of hurricane season, ready to be deployed when needed.

Washington Post