Hurricane scientist Lisa Bucci took a jarring ride through the strengthening Hurricane Lane Tuesday evening. Eventually, her plane emerged from the swirling clouds into the vast, stadium-like eye of the storm.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hurricane hunter plane comes out of the clouds at about the 20-second mark in the video. At around 45 seconds, Bucci points the camera down, at the churning Pacific Ocean below.
Hurricane Lane poses a considerable threat to Hawaii and is currently projected to skim the volcanic islands beginning on Thursday. NOAA is flying through the storm to take measurements of the cyclone’s wind, pressure, and temperature, to better understand exactly where the storm might go.
The U.S. has a fleet of hurricane hunter aircraft operated by NOAA, NASA, and the U.S. Air Force. In this video, NOAA’s four-engine plane “Kermit” flew into Hurricane Lane, releasing small weather-measuring tubes called dropsondes that parachute through the storm and relay information back to scientists aboard the plane.
Hurricane hunters are usually quite active in the Atlantic and Caribbean this time of year, as we enter peak Atlantic hurricane season. But Hurricane Lane made a rare track toward Hawaii, which rarely has waters warm enough to feed, and sustain, powerful storms. This year, however, the National Hurricane Center said the waters around Hawaii are warm enough to fuel a major hurricane like Lane, which has wind speeds reaching 160 mph.
After the mission landed safely in Hawaii, Bucci tweeted that it was “a strong and dangerous storm.”