The NOAA Hurricane Hunter P-3 aircraft (NOAA42) is flying Tropical Depression 3 off the coast of North Carolina — the first NOAA missions of the 2018 hurricane season. The airplane took off from Lakeland at 4:30 AM EDT for an 8 hour mission. A second mission is planned for 4:30 PM. Below is the planned flight track. The dots on the flight track below (shown in green) represent the P-3 aircraft turn points. The red dots in the figure show the locations that launch weather balloons twice a day while the purple dots are the locations that launch balloons once a day. The goal of these missions are to collect and transmit Doppler radar, dropsonde, and other aircraft data from the airplane to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), with the goal of improving forecasts of the storm. Dropsondes are an instrument platform that measures the vertical profiles of temperature, wind, and humidity in the atmosphere, while the Doppler radar measures the structure and intensity of rainfall and wind.
Above: P-3 ready to depart for the first mission into Tropical Depression 3