What does a pilot use to study weather?
What is the eye wall?
How can information about hurricanes be used?
Into the Hurricane
"OK, everyone! Check your seatbelts. It's time to rock and roll!"
The words of the pilot sound like he's having fun, but his hands are sweating on the controls of his airplane. The plane is made for studying the weather, and the pilot is about to fly it into the center of a hurricane.
As the plane flies into the milky white clouds, drops of water shoot over the windows. Strong winds toss the plane around and shake the scientists in their seats.
This is what you would see from a plane in the center of a hurricane.
The pilot's voice comes over the intercom. He wants to keep everyone in a good mood, so he asks them a riddle. "OK, guys," he says. "Guess which way we're flying."
"North " one of the scientists asks.
"Northeast " asks another.
"Wrong," the pilot answers. "There's no way to tell which way we're flying. All I know for sure is that we are flying sideways!"
When a weather plane flies into the eye wall of a hurricane, the plane can be tossed in many directions. The eye wall is a circle of thunderstorms spinning around the eye (center) of a hurricane. If the pilot isn't lucky, the slamming winds can rip off a wing. After all, those winds may hit the airplane sideways at up to 200 miles (320 kilometers) per hour.
It's important for scientists to study hurricanes and tornadoes because these storms cause huge amounts of damage.
But hurricanes are not easy to study. It's dangerous work.