The National Hurricane Center continues to track the approach of Hurricane Irene as it nears the East Coast of the United States. Rough estimates suggest the storm will strike in the Carolinas sometime Saturday. The U.S. military and the various National Guard units of the coastal states are preparing for the storm.
The first military unit to be called upon when any hurricane approaches is the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the Hurricane Hunters. These Air Force reservists fly C-130 aircraft loaded with instrumentation into storms of all sizes. Their on the spot observations are critical to forecasting a storm's size and track.
National Guard units will be activated, as needed, by the governors of their respective states. Air Guard units, such as Florida's 125th Fighter Wing, are moving aircraft to safer locations ahead of the storm.
Along the Space Coast in Florida, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral personnel are beginning to secure vehicles and equipment that could be damaged by the hurricane. Any launch structures or launch vehicles will also be prepared for the anticipated high winds and heavy rain.
The Hampton Roads, Va., area is home to several naval bases. The Commander, U.S. Second Fleet, has ordered ships in port to make ready to sortie in advance of Hurricane Irene. All ships should be prepared to be underway in 24 hours.
An Air Force unit stationed at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Va., is responsible for the weather forecasting for all military units in the Washington, area. The 1st Operations Support Squadron will be providing local weather forecasts and reports as Hurricane Irene passes through the nation's capital.
The Puerto Rico National Guard is in disaster assistance mode. Its soldiers are currently assisting local authorities with a number of tasks now that Hurricane Irene has passed the island. The heavy construction equipment from the Guard is being very useful in removing debris from roadways.
- National Hurricane Center