Hurricane Hunter aircraft visit RDU

The WC-130J at RDU. (Kristin Ketchell/CBS North Carolina)

MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – Hurricane season officially begins on June 1 and in preparation for the upcoming season, the 2017 Hurricane Awareness Tour made a stop at Raleigh-Durham International Airport on Wednesday.

The WC-130J and NOAA G-IV aircraft were on display for the public to tour.

NOAA G-IV aircraft

Pilots and other crew members talked about their experiences flying above, around and into hurricanes.

“It’s like having a two-ton gorilla jumping up and down on your car while you’re going through a car wash. So imagine that for six hours,” said Mjr. Kelly Soich with the U.S. Air Force.

They fly over, around and even into dangerous storms.

And Wednesday, the Hurricane Hunter aircraft were on display at RDU as part of the 2017 Hurricane Awareness Tour.

Other agencies were also on hand demonstrating the effects of flooding and offering advice on how to get prepared.

“Make sure you have a plan. Make sure you have an emergency kit and make sure you stay situationally aware by staying tuned to the media,” said North Carolina Emergency Management Director Mike Sprayberry.

Raleigh was chosen specifically for a stop on the tour to intentionally highlight the inland threats from tropical storms and hurricanes.

Dr. Rick Knabb and Kristin Ketchell

North Carolina has a long history with hurricanes having severe impacts to inland areas.

Hurricanes Hazel, Fran, Floyd and most recently Matthew are reminders of why understanding the hazards associated with these storms are so important.

Forecasters with the National Hurricane Center are taking what they learned from Matthew and are working to find ways to better communicate the dangers of inland flooding, which stretch far beyond the forecast track of a storm.

“I think most people aren’t afraid enough of water and don’t realize how heavy it is, how damaging it can be, how deadly it can be,” said Dr. Rick Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center.

The tour was open to public but the crowd was so large – people had to be turned away.

The aircraft, pilots and crew will head to Orlando on Thursday, eventually wrapping up their tour in Miami at the end of this week.

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