It’s a good thing DeSantis knows what he’s doing because the Biden administration still managed to plan poorly and mess things up.
As Hurricane Idalia was about to batter Florida’s Big Bend region, reports have surfaced of an important tool being unavailable. Due to a generator failure, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration had to ground its last “hurricane hunter” plane ahead of the storm. Those planes provide pivotal data for forecasters, especially as the hurricanes make landfall.
Dubbed Miss Piggy, the plane is one of three aircraft operated by NOAA that can collect storm information essential to forecasters. In the 24 hours leading up to Idalia’s arrival, it was the only NOAA-operated plane available to the National Hurricane Center.
It is unclear whether the Hurricane Center’s forecasting abilities suffered due to the lack of NOAA’s “hurricane hunters.” NOAA’s other two planes, Kermit and Gonzo were down because they needed repairs. Without the planes in the air, forecasters may have a harder time providing reliable watches, warnings, and evacuation decisions.
The loss of the planes serves as a major concern since we are in the early stages of the hurricane season. The planes usually provide the forecasters with an invaluable data set, including wind direction and speed, pressure, humidity and temperature readings, as well as precipitation and wind measurements. All of these can be used to determine a storm’s intensity, trajectory, and potential impacts.
Given the flight restrictions, the National Hurricane Center was forced to rely on other data-collection tools and systems instead. NOAA confirmed that it was using a variety of alternatives, including satellites and the National Weather Service’s network of radars to assess the situation, among other systems.
The difficulties associated with the groundings of the last aircraft serves to emphasize the need to replace the aging models. The two P-3s have existed since the 70s, and the single Gulfstream jet was first flown in the mid-90s. The stress of flying through a hurricane can be grueling on both the plane and the crewman operating it. Good thing we are giving all of our money to Eastern Europe.
So there you have it, for the last twenty-four hours before landfall, forecasters and DeSantis were working off second-hand data.
Think about that a projected CAT 4 hurricane was about to slam into a major metropolitan area and the best tools we have were grounded.
A competent administration would have made sure the vital aircraft would be in tip-top shape before the hurricane season started so they were ready to go.