The Hurricane Hunters continue to fly into the eye of Hurricane Ian to gather essential data for National Hurricane Center meteorologists.
Hurricane Hunters are part of the Aircraft Reconnaissance of the National Hurricane Center, a division within NOAA. They fly through storms to gather valuable first-hand data.
After taking off from Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi, FOX News Reporter Madison Scarpino spent 9 hours on a Hurricane Hunter flight back and forth into the eye of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday as the Category 4 storm approached Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Watch the video above to see the turbulent flight into the eye of Ian, made just hours before landfall.
“It was nuts, the turbulence wasn’t bad at first, but then it got horrible,” she said. “The NOAA Hurricane Hunter went through the eye at the same time as us, and actually turned around from how intense it was.”
Hurricane Hunter Pilot Maj. Kendall Dunn with the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron described the flight as one of the roughest of his career.
“The storm was rapidly intensifying,” Dunn said. “We made a shot to come through the eyewall, but the rain was so intense that the radar was only just seeing beyond our nose.”
When the pilot did get a clearing to come through the eyewall, they experienced the worst turbulence of Dunn’s career.
“We got rocked,” Dunn said. “The aircraft was basically overmatched at one point. We were max-power, trying to gain speed. We were basically diving, losing air. It was a mess. It was the worst thing you could have to happen as a pilot.”
The eyewall of Hurricane Ian moved onshore in Lee County at Sanibel and Captiva Islands just after noon as a Category 4 storm.
Another Hurricane Hunter pass through Ian is planned for Wednesday afternoon when the eye is expected to make landfall.