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Hurricane Hunter Planes Provide Look at Flying Into Storms

Two hunter planes were on display at Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island to kick off National Hurricane Preparedness Week

To kick off National Hurricane Preparedness week on Monday, hurricane experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and pilots displayed some hunter planes at Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island.

On display at the airport were a NOAA Lockheed WP-3D Orion hurricane hunter and a U.S. Air Force Reserve WC-130J.

"I grew up in North Quincy, [Massachusetts], went to Plymouth State College for my degree in meteorology and I started working in NOAA 17 years ago and I've been flying into hurricanes ever since," explained Paul Flaherty, chief of Science and Operations for the NOAA Hurricane Hunters.

Flaherty and the other brave men and women in NOAA and the Air Force Reserve fly into the eye of the storm to help track the path and intensity of hurricanes.

"If we do find ourselves looking down the barrel of a hurricane coming our way in New England," said Flaherty, "we will be better prepared."

Monday's message for the hundreds of students and community members: a New England hurricane is certainly possible and we should all be prepared.

The last hurricane to make landfall in New England was Hurricane Bob in 1991.

Acting Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator and New Englander Pete Gaynor says Congress recently appropriated a significant amount of money to mitigation.

"When the program gets rolled out in October 2020 there could be anywhere of $300-500 million that locals and states can use for pre-disaster mitigation," said Gaynor.

According to FEMA, for every $1 spent on navigation, it saves $6 in disaster recovery. Communicating risk according to national hurricane center director Ken Graham has also been a challenge.

"You have to plan on what could happen not on your past experiences you have to be ready for anything you have to be ready for the storm surge you have to be ready for the inland flooding," said Graham. "It's not just a coastal event. It's definitely an inland problem, as well."

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