Officials Plan for Fewer Hurricane Hunter Flights this Season

May 22, 2007

Although forecasters predict an active hurricane season, federal officials said crews will fly fewer hurricane hunter flights from the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla..

Officials hope that reducing flights will make missions more efficient, said Philip Kenul, commander of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Aircraft Operations Center in Tampa.

“We’re just trying to be a little bit smarter about the way we spend federal dollars,” Kenul said.

NOAA officials have planned for 354 hours of flying time for hurricane-related missions during this fiscal year, the St. Petersburg Times reported. In 2005, 707 hours were allocated for the flights out of Tampa.

Kenul said additional funds from the National Weather Service will help pay for more flying time. The National Weather Service is part of NOAA. He also said crews will fly additional missions if necessary, regardless of budget constraints.

“We have never canceled a mission because of dollars, and we never will,” Kenul said.

Information from: St. Petersburg Times,

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