A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration P-3 Orion sat on the tarmac at Armstrong International Airport on Monday.
It is one of several Hurricane Hunter aircraft flown to New Orleans to escape Hurricane Irma which hit their home base in Florida.
The aircraft and crew fly directly into the eye of a hurricane to gather research data to help predict the path and intensity of the storm.
Commander Scott Price says the best data about the storm is in the storm.
"Being able to get into the environment, collect that data and get that data out to the folks that work the models and generate the forecasts for the public is critically important," Price said.
The NOAA Hurricane Hunters drop sensors that continuously measure barometric pressure, humidity, temperature, wind direction and speed.
There is also a Dopler radar in the tail section and other instruments hanging from the wings of the plane. WWL-TV Meteorologist Dave Nussbaum said the more data collected, the more accurate the forecast.
"Before they started flying into Irma, it showed a landfall somewhere along the Outer Banks of North Carolina," Nussbaum said. "Once they started flying into these systems, they got a better feel for what it is. That data was put into the models and we had a more accurate output and we knew Florida was going to be at ground zero."
"Irma was a particularly challenging storm to fly," Price said. "It was a a category 4 when we found it, it developed from there, we flew it as a category 5."
Commander Price called Irma one of the most dynamic storms he's flown into during his nine years with the Hurricane Hunters.
"A lot of turbulence," Price said. "A lot of convention. Spectacular view in the eye. We got a really nice view of what they call the stadium effect, so in the eye it was calm and you could see the wall of clouds and wind around you."
Hurricane Hunters don't just fly into a storm. They also fly above it and around it to get a feel for the entire weather system.
"It isn't just now finding where the center is and how strong it is, it's finding the entire environment around the system there and multiple times," Nussbaum said.
Price and his crew are now expected to be called on to fly into the next storm on deck, Hurricane Jose.
"We're very proud of what we do," Price said. "We are proud to have the opportunity to do what we do and to serve."
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