Miss. Senator Recognizes Keesler AFB-based Unit’s Vital Contributions during a Busy Hurricane Season

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today commended the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron (WRS), based at Keesler Air Force Base, for its important contributions to national safety.

The 53rd WRS, commonly known as the “Hurricane Hunters,” flies specially-modified WC-130J aircraft into the heart of hurricanes, providing valuable data to several weather-monitoring and public safety agencies, including the National Hurricane Center and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These agencies use the data to determine the strength of the storms and more accurately predict their paths, potentially saving countless lives.

“I am proud of Mississippi’s own Hurricane Hunters, whose around the clock work over the past few weeks has provided critical weather data in the face of devastating storms” Cochran said. “I commend the men and women of this Air Force Reserve unit who put their lives on hold to fly into perilous storms. Their efforts have saved lives.”

The 53rd WRS flew more than 120 hours during 13 missions to monitor Hurricane Harvey, which ravaged areas of Texas and Louisiana. Days later, the squadron flew into the heart of Hurricane Irma, ultimately logging 160 flight hours in 33 missions. The time-sensitive data collected in-flight provided national weather advisory services with the most accurate and detailed information. This data, which cannot be gleaned from satellites or other technologies, influenced evacuation and other emergency response decisions.

Cochran, chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, acknowledged that the 2017 hurricane season is far from over.

“Today, crews from Keesler are flying into Hurricane Maria, which remains a threat after racing through Puerto Rico. I salute their tireless dedication to this unique mission,” Cochran said.