GPS Tracking Balloons Used for Monitoring Hurricane Irma

18 Sep 2017

The National Weather Service worked hard to gather up data before Hurricane Irma hit landfall.

Last Wednesday morning, Hurricane Irma hit the small northern Caribbean islands hard before it hit Anguilla and St. Martin. It’s recorded to be one of the strongest storms in the Atlantic and headed towards northern Puerto Rico and parts of the British Virgin Islands on its way to Southern Florida.

The storm has winds that are 185 mph, which are way above the threshold of a Category 5 which is 157 mph winds.

In Nebraska in North Platte, in one of the country’s weather service outposts, researchers began collecting data. They utilized a weather balloon that had special instruments equipped to it that help figure out the path of Hurricane Irma.

Officials are sending up these balloons, which are equipped with GPS tracking, six times a day as Irma strengthened in the Atlantic instead of twice daily.

Meteorologists were closely monitoring wind patterns, humidity, temperature, and pressure from over a hundred thousand feet up in the atmosphere to gather up models and predictions.

Some of the smaller islands sustained major damage according to early reports. These are the tropical region parts that tourists often come to.

Barbuda which has around 1,600 people was damaged so bad by Irma that the island had no communication, said director of Antigua and Barbuda’s meteorological office, Keithley Meade. Meade said they have a bunch of trees broken down across the island.

French Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said that Irma destroyed four government buildings. They were located on the French-administered portion that’s near the island St. Martin with 75,000 people. He assumes there’s damage to other buildings that are older.

Virginia Barreras informed CNN that she rode the storm out in a “sanctuary hotel” on the tiny island where locals and tourists were told to check in before it was hit by the eyewall.

Barreras said early Wednesday, that you couldn’t see anything but white with bending palm trees. As the winds blow hard, the walls shake and they could hear debris being tossed all over.

After she left the Caribbean, Irma wreaked havoc on the Florida Keys, South Florida, and made her force known throughout Florida, and other southeastern U.S. states.

Hurricane Irma was the most intense Atlantic hurricane in more than a decade and the most forceful to strike the U.S. since 2005 when Katrina hit.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

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