Tropical cyclones are initially observed using a combination of the following methods: ships; satellites; aircraft; radar; buoys; and land-based platforms measuring pressure and wind (The University of Rhode Island, n.d.). During Hurricane Maria one tracking and forecasting tool was a C-130 aircraft belonging to the U.S Air Force Reserve’s “Hurricane Hunters” (Brown; Blake, 2017).
Two pallets used solely for weather reconnaissance are loaded into the plane’s cargo section (Hurricane Hunter Association). A computer system responsible for processing all the airplane sensors data, and communication equipment is part of the Aerial Reconnaissance Weather Officer (ARWO) pallet. Pallet number two features one or more ‘GPS Sonde’, a lightweight instrument dropped from the aircraft between 5,000 and 38,000 feet. While descending at 2,500 feet per minute, the GPS Sonde records information twice per second before transmitting its findings back to the aircraft. Information includes current pressure, wind speed, temperature, direction, humidity, and GPS position (Hurricane Hunter Association).
I believe the tools used to track Hurricane Maria were sufficient. Before Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico, their public safety commissioner Hector Pesquera told residents “You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you’re going to die. I don’t know how to make this any clearer ( Reuters and Fortune Editors, 2017).”
Reuters and Fortune Editors. (2017, September 20). Hurricane Maria Hits Puerto Rico as Residents Told to Evacuate or ‘You’re Going to Die’. Retrieved from Fortune: http://fortune.com/2017/09/20/hurricane-maria-puerto-rico-evacuate/
Brown; Blake. (2017, September 18). Hurricane MARIA. Retrieved from National Hurricane Center National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: https://www.nhc.noaa.gov/archive/2017/al15/al152017.update.09182345.shtml
Chappell, B. (2017, September 18). Hurricane Maria Heads Toward Puerto Rico As A Major Storm. Retrieved from NPR: https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/09/18/551747531/hurricane-maria-heads-toward-puerto-rico-expected-to-become-major-storm
Hurricane Hunter Association. (n.d.). The Aircraft of the Hurricane Hunters. Retrieved from Hurricane Hunters Association: http://www.hurricanehunters.com/plane.html
The University of Rhode Island. (n.d.). National Hurricane Center Forecast Process. Retrieved from Hurricanes: Science and Society: http://www.hurricanescience.org/science/forecast/forecasting/forecastprocess/