Hurricane Hunter Tour of Gulf Coast Starts April 14

NOAA hurricane experts will travel on a WP-3 Orion turboprop Hurricane Hunter aircraft in a five-city tour of the Gulf Coast beginning April 14 to raise awareness about hurricanes' dangers. Bill Read, the new director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, will accompany Jack Beven, Ph.D., senior hurricane specialist, and Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist, when the airplane visits Corpus Christi, Galveston, New Orleans, Apalachicola, Fla., and Fort Myers, Fla. Such tours have been conducted for more than 25 years on the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.

"As we saw last year with Humberto, hurricanes can develop rather quickly close to our coastline," said Read. "NOAA uses the hurricane awareness tour to get the message out to the communities that now is the time to prepare for a hurricane, rather than when a storm is at your doorstep."

"The tour brings middle school students to the aircraft to hear firsthand about the threat that hurricanes play in their lives," said James McFadden, Ph.D., chief of programs at NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center. "Every member of the crew feels a certain amount of pride in being a part of these missions." American Red Cross, National Weather Service, and emergency management officials will take part in the tour.

Hurricane Preparedness Week is May 25-31; the Atlantic hurricane season begins June 1. The tour stops and times will be:

* April 14: International Airport, Corpus Christi, 3:30-4:30 p.m.
* April 15: Scholes Int'l Airport, Galveston, 3-4:30 p.m.
* April 16: Lakefront Airport, New Orleans, 3-4:30 p.m.
* April 17: Municipal Airport, Apalachicola, 3-4:30 p.m.
* April 18: Page Field Airport, Fort Myers, 3-4:30 p.m.

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