During the final NOAA flight into Hurricane Lane, history was made when (l-r) Lisa Bucci, Kelly Ryan, Kathryn Sellwood, and Heather Holbach became the first all-female science crew on a hurricane hunter mission. Serendipitously, the mission was conducted into the hurricane when it was category 5, the strongest category of hurricane, with sustained winds of 135 kt (155 mph/250 kph). Heather Holbach was Lead Project Scientist, the project supervisor on the aircraft, for the mission, whose primary goal was to gather Doppler radar and dropwindsonde data in the hurricane and send it to the ground to help initialize forecast models. Kathryn Sellwood quality controlled the profiles of wind, temperature, pressure, and humidity obtained by dropwindsondes as they fell from the aircraft to the ocean surface, and transmitted the data to the ground, also for model initialization. And Lisa Bucci and Kelly Ryan shared duties in ensuring proper quality control of the Doppler radar data and in gathering data with the Doppler wind lidar; the radar gathers wind information where there are clouds and precipitation, and the lidar gathers wind information where there are few clouds or where the air is clear.
The four, along with the crew from the Aircraft Operations Center based in Lakeland, FL, flew three passes through the eye of Lane and saw a spectacular stadium-effect eye before returning safely to base after their bumpy ride. Congratulations to these four brave and trailblazing scientists.
[Heather Holbach works at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division and is employed by the Northern Gulf Institute, a NOAA Cooperative Institute. Kelly Ryan, Kathryn Sellwood, and Lisa Bucci also work at NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division and are employed by the Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Studies.]