The Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing relocated its 20 aircraft on Monday from Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., as Hurricane Marco and Tropical Storm Laura continued their path toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.
The wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, a tactical airlift unit, flew their C-130J Super Hercules to Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, and the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, or Hurricane Hunters, relocated their WC-130Js and operations to Atlantic Aviation Charleston International Airport, South Carolina, where they will continue to fly both storms and provide weather information to the National Hurricane Center, which greatly improves their intensity and track forecasts.
Marco became a hurricane on Monday and is forecasted to make landfall on the Louisiana coast Aug. 24, and Tropical Storm Laura could also become a hurricane and impact the Gulf Coast by Aug. 25, according to the National Hurricane Center.
“We are moving aircraft as a precautionary measure ahead of these storms for two reasons,” said Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing vice commander. “First, to protect the aircraft from damage, and second, so we can continue to fly storm reconnaissance missions. It’s been an unprecedented year just keeping the mission going while mitigating the impacts of COVID. Now for the first time in history, we could have two hurricanes simultaneously in the Gulf of Mexico. Whatever Mother Nature and 2020 bring our way, we have been able to get the mission accomplished thanks to our outstanding Airmen who ensure we are always ready.”
Hurricane and storm surge warnings have been issued for portions of the Gulf Coast. A tropical storm warning is in effect for Keesler Air Force Base, Mississippi, and the surrounding area. The wing commander encourages all Airmen to review their hurricane preparedness strategy and take all appropriate storm response actions.
“If you have questions, please coordinate with your unit leadership and monitor official base and wing websites and social media channels,” he said.