Up close and very educational best describes the opportunity made available by NOAA and a host of hurricane specialists as part of the 2016 Hurricane Awareness Tour that included the New Orleans Lakefront Airport in its national itinerary. On hand for viewing was an Air Force WC-130J along with the NOAA G-IV research plane - both used to collect data used by forecasters in determining the intensity and path of storms. The message of the afternoon was "Preparedness'.
The WC-130J is one of only ten in the country with its capabilities. It's role is to fly through the eye of an hurricane, all the while collecting and transmitting data via satellite to the National Hurricane Center. The smaller G-IV, flies around and above the storm collecting and transmitting additional data for forecasters. In both instances, the planes drop canisters containing electronic instruments that measure temperature, humidity, wind speed, etc. as it descends from the plane - ultimately disintegrating in the ocean below. The accuracy made available with the use of these tools saves millions of dollars in narrowing down the area that will have to evacuate.