This is the moment a weather plane passed through the eye of one of the strongest storms to hit the continental United States in years in what was a truly terrifying ride.
Incredible footage from inside a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) plane showed the brave crew of ‘hurricane hunters’ as they were buffeted by massive turbulence from Hurricane Ian.
Equipment rattled around the cabin and crew members were shaken from their seats as a barely believable thunderstorm roared outside the plane’s windows, fully lighting up the night sky in the early hours of Wednesday morning.
NOAA engineer Nick Underwood, a six-year hurricane hunting veteran who captured the hair-raising clip, said on Twitter: “When I say this was the toughest flight of my career so far, I mean it.” I’ve never seen bunks go out like this… I’ve never seen so much lightning in the eye.
The Category 4 hurricane slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast with catastrophic force on Wednesday, unleashing howling 150 mph winds, torrential rain and a treacherous storm surge that lashed thousands of homes.
Ian has now been downgraded to a tropical storm, but flood warnings are still in effect across the state of Florida and 2 million have lost power.
Equipment was scattered around the cabin, bunks fell off their beds, and huge lightning flashed through the window.
NOAA engineer Nick Underwood, a six-year hurricane hunting veteran, captured the hair-raising clip
Equipment rattled around the cabin and crew members were thrown from their seats. NOAA engineer Nick Underwood captured the ordeal on camera.
Incredible images taken during the flight show lightning in the eye of the storm
The Category 4 hurricane slammed into Florida’s Gulf Coast with catastrophic force on Wednesday, unleashing howling 150 mph winds, torrential rain and a treacherous swell of ocean waves that lashed thousands of homes.
Images show almost darkness in the eye of the storm
Speaking to NBC10 Boston, Underwood said, “It was just a lot of turbulence in a lateral direction.” We normally have things up and down, but being thrown from side to side is much more unnerving than you might expect.
“Something that added to the environment was the amount of lightning, both in the eyewall and in the eye, even. I have never seen so many lightning bolts inside a hurricane.
Hurricane hunting is a vital activity. While satellites can track hurricanes and provide information about their formation and general path, only planes can fly into the eye of the storm to collect a trove of data to accurately predict hurricane development and movement.
Ian quickly transformed an idyllic stretch of sandy beaches and seaside towns into a seawater-inundated disaster zone.
Early video footage of the storm’s fury on local television and social media showed floodwaters sweeping away cars, reaching nearly rooftops in some communities and the ruins of homes as palm trees bent nearly in half.
Crew members’ belongings are scattered throughout the flight.
The plane’s kitchen is filled with random items belonging to the crew after the flight, including a sandal.
Up to 30 inches (76 cm) of rain is forecast to fall in parts of central Florida in the next few days as the storm moves inland, threatening to cause major flash flooding.
Nearly 2 million homes and businesses across the state lost power early this morning.
“This storm is wreaking havoc in the state of Florida,” said Governor Ron DeSantis, who has asked US President Joe Biden to approve a federal major disaster declaration that would provide a wide range of emergency aid from the United States to the entire state.
US border authorities said 20 Cuban immigrants were missing after their boat capsized off the Florida coast as Ian approached the shore on Wednesday.
There were no immediate official reports of other storm-related casualties.
An unknown number of people were stranded in “high-risk” evacuation zones and needed help after defying orders to seek higher ground, but rescue teams were unable to reach them immediately, the governor said.
The International Space Station shared this image showing the incredible size of the hurricane on Wednesday.
Hurricane Ian has left entire neighborhoods in Florida under water as it brought torrential rain and stormy weather to the state.
A flooded downtown street is seen as Hurricane Ian makes landfall in southwest Florida, in Fort Myers, Florida, USA, 28 September 2022
Having swept through Cuba on Tuesday, leaving it without power for hours, Ian made landfall in Florida at 3:05 p.m. EDT (1905 GMT) on Wednesday near Cayo Costa, a barrier island west of Fort Myers, the National Hurricane Center reported. USA (NHC) reported.
The storm’s maximum wind speeds put it just shy of a Category 5 designation on the Saffir-Simpson scale, the maximum rating.
Ian then made landfall on the Florida mainland, south of the port city of Punta Gorda, with slightly decreased winds peaking at 145 mph.
DeSantis said Ian had generated life-threatening storm surges, wind-driven waves of seawater that rush along the coast, as high as 12 feet (3.7 meters) in places. Forecasters also warned of intense thunderstorms and possible tornadoes.
“This is a storm that we will talk about for many years, a historic event,” said Ken Graham, director of the National Weather Service.
Video footage of the storm’s fury on local television and social media showed floodwater almost reaching roof tops in some communities, washing away cars and the ruins of homes as palm trees bent nearly over the edge. half. Pictured: Stills from a video showing the orange roof of a house floating in a flooded street in Naples
Hurricane Ian is making its way through Florida, leaving a devastating trail of destruction in its wake, as dozens of people remain trapped in their flooded homes and two million are without power.
The slow-moving, expanding storm pushed further inland as darkness fell, and within six hours of making landfall it was downgraded to a Category 2, with maximum sustained winds of 105 mph (170 km/h). reported the NHC.
Further weakening is forecast over the next day as Ian crosses the Florida panhandle on a northeasterly track, is expected to reach the Atlantic coast and arrive at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday afternoon.