U.S. Air Force pilots spent a cloudy Oct. 9 morning crossing through the violent winds of Hurricane Michael.
On their sixth pass, the pilots entered the storm’s eye during daylight, capturing footage of the 150-mph hour storm’s steep eyewalls.
Hurricane Michael is making history Wednesday as the first Category 4 storm ever to hit the Florida Panhandle, and the second most powerful storm ever recorded this far north in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I love the job, but at the same time, hate that I had to go out to fly this today,” U.S. Air Force Reserve Pilot Will Simmons tweeted Wednesday morning.
“Extremely powerful hurricane,” added Simmons.
On our 6th pass through the eye of Category 4 Hurricane Michael, we @53rdWRS had daylight to witness what has been greatly intensifying over the past few days. Life-threatening effects are imminent along parts of the Florida panhandle. @NHC_Atlantic will have the latest. pic.twitter.com/QqdlYzhenj
— Will Simmons (@wrsimmons) October 10, 2018
A variety of U.S. Hurricane Hunting craft from the likes of the Air Force the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have been making rocky trips through Michael over the last few days.
While flying through, the planes release tubes called dropsondes that parachute through a storm’s wind, collecting vital information about the cyclone’s behavior.
Yesterday, storm forecasters expected Hurricane Michael to only grow stronger, as conditions in both the ocean and atmosphere would only lend more energy to the storm.
They were right.
As the National Weather Service ominously tweeted on Wednesday morning: “THIS IS A WORST CASE SCENARIO for the Florida Panhandle!!”