Hurricane hunter who caught Fiona’s eyes describes ‘very challenging’ storm


Kevin Doremus says the eye of Hurricane Fiona, the storm that swept into the Canadian Atlantic last month and caused widespread damage, looks like an outdoor dome similar to a sports stadium.

Doremus, deputy commander of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, approached a Category 3 hurricane colliding with the coasts of Aruba and Puerto Rico over the Atlantic Ocean. A tropical storm has made landfall in Canada.

A pilot known as Hurricane Hunter uses an airplane he affectionately calls Miss Piggy to fly scientists and collect data through the eyes of dangerous storms. He said Fiona’s eyes exhibit what is known as the “stadium effect.”

“Basically, the strongest winds in a storm go through the eye wall and go from very high winds to zero very quickly,” Dremus said in a recent interview. “It’s basically flying in the bathtub, with so much rain and so much precipitation that you can’t see anything out the window, it pops right in the middle of your eye and everything clears.”

In Fiona’s eyes, the circular wall of clouds looked like a sports dome.

“If you look up, you can look up,” Dremus said. “You can see low into the water. Quite a surreal experience. Fiona’s eyes were definitely very well formed as we flew towards the end. A pretty impressive stadium effect. Got it.”

Doremus has been a hurricane hunter for about five years and has worked for US agencies for over ten years. He said he flew into the hurricane’s eye more than 100 times. “You go through the wall of the eye, into the eye, and back on the other side. It’s one pass,” he said. “I fly with people who have 400 or 500 passes, so most of the time I’m below my peers.”

His last flight past Fiona was on September 21, just before landing in Bermuda after passing Puerto Rico.

“It was a very difficult storm for us because when it was really strong we were far from land,” he said. “

Eyes are usually the calmest part of a storm, but that wasn’t the case with Fiona.

“We were in a storm and we were in darkness most of the time. “It was lit up, so I could see some features,” he said. “It was definitely a very active storm.”

Fiona roars through Puerto Rico, leaving a trail of destruction, tearing the island apart and causing a landslide before reaching Bermuda. According to the US National Hurricane Center, Fiona had maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour as she raged south of Halifax in the mid-afternoon of September 23.

A post-tropical storm made landfall in the Nova Scotia communities of Canso and Guysborough on September 24th. Its hurricane-like winds passed through the area, cutting power to her more than 500,000 customers in the area. On Tuesday, nearly three weeks after Fiona took the area by storm, Prince Edward Island, her more than 3,000 customers, were still without power.

What Doremus found unusual about Fiona was that the storm maintained its strength much longer than the average hurricane. Researchers and pilots spent a lot of time studying Fiona to see how the storm would intensify, he said, and once the storm made landfall, scientists used instruments to collect data. It added that it is not possible to collect

“Because the storm has been in the open ocean for so long, we were able to actually sample the storm before it hit land and gather a lot of very valuable research information,” he said.

Researchers collected information on temperature, pressure, humidity, dew point, and wind speed. The goal is to provide ground authorities with accurate data, giving them time to prepare before the storm hits landfall.

When large storms like Fiona threaten the coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration not only monitors them, but operates around the clock to collect data, Doremus said. Agencies meet daily at 2:00 am or 2:00 pm. Doremus said he likes his 2 p.m. meetings and usually prepares to stop by the local grocery store to buy cookies.

At the 2:00 am meeting, he receives donuts. “Only snacks,” he said with a laugh. “Chocolate Works”

Hina Aram

canadian press