August 26, 2013

As residents of the Northeast continue picking up the pieces after “Superstorm” Sandy – a hurricane and post-tropical cyclone that ravaged New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Maryland, they are keeping a wary eye on the weather during this hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Climate Prediction Center earlier this month reiterated its forecast of a 70-percent chance that this season, which runs from June 1 until Nov. 30, will see an above-average number of named storms. They predict as many as 19 tropical cyclones with winds of more than 39 mph. Of those, they believe as many as nine will become hurricanes and up to five will become major storms – Category 3 or above.

Review NOAA’s hurricane forecast.

While NBAA’s Air Traffic Services (ATS) prepares to provide Association Members resources to inform their mission decisions when those predicted storms develop, Members like Toni Drummond hope they see nothing like last year’s season ever again.

“It was like a tornado. It sounded like that throughout most of the night,” remembered the president of EA Jet Charter, headquartered near Teterboro, NJ, of Sandy hitting on Oct. 29, 2012.

Superstorm Sandy killed 117 people in the U.S., 69 more in the Caribbean and Canada. It affected airports across the Eastern Seaboard, but few as badly as those in coastal New Jersey. The storm cut power to sections of the Northeast for more than two weeks.

Many NBAA Members responded by enrolling in the Association’s Humanitarian Emergency Response Operators (HERO) database, where they could volunteer aircraft, pilots and crew or other resources in the service of providing flight support for getting relief to those in need.

“The HERO database was incredibly effective,” Drummond said. “It didn’t matter what you flew – Cessna 172’s were flying supplies into airports where larger aircraft couldn’t go, but where the need was as great as anywhere else.

NBAA Watching the Weather

As was the case when Superstorm Sandy made landfall last year, NBAA ATS employees are again working closely with the FAA to make sure Members have the most up-to-date information possible on tropical storms and their effects.

“When U.S. interests are threatened by a tropical weather event, the FAA begins two-a-day teleconferences,” said NBAA Air Traffic Services Specialist John Kosak. “With information and insights from those teleconferences, NBAA ATS will build a hurricane-specific page on the Association’s website.”

That page contains information on a storm’s position and strength as well as any air traffic management concerns that might arise as a result. NBAA will also send notifications to Members through its Air Mail system, providing informational briefs and links to the hurricane webpage.

“We’ll also tweet that information,” Kosak said. Air Traffic Services uses the Twitter handle @NBAA_ATS.

“We do this for all Members,” Kosak continued. “This isn’t restricted to ATS subscribers. We want all of our Members to know as much as possible during a hurricane.”