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Pilot describes flying through Florence

Hurricane Florence has been upgraded Category 4, prompting numerous warnings from state officials to not underestimate the threat the storm poses. NOAA pilot Justin Kibbey discusses his flights through the hurricane.

Posted: Sep 12, 2018 5:08 AM
Updated: Sep 12, 2018 5:08 AM

As Paul Flaherty flew over Hurricane Florence, he didn't like what he was seeing.

The storm was getting stronger and stronger. It grew from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane in 72 hours.

Flaherty, flight director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Hunters, saw the eye wall forming. He felt a sick feeling in his gut.

"It just kind of hits you in the gut when you see this thing strengthening and know that the forecast is calling for it to come in as such a strong storm," he told CNN on Monday after his third flight. "We don't like what we're seeing. I don't think you guys like much what you're seeing on the ground either."

Hurricane hunters have monitored the storm from above over the last few days as it churns toward the southern East Coast of the United States. Hurricane Florence neared Category 5 strength on Monday, forcing evacuations in coastal areas in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

NOAA Hurricane Hunter Pilot Cmdr. Justin Kibbey also recalled the distinctness of the storm's eye. It stretched 10 to 12 miles, he said.

"This storm has really got its act together and it's just a heck of a storm out there," Kibbey told CNN.

Kibbey described "moments of intensity, followed by some lulls" as he flew in and out of the storm.

The 2017 hurricane season kept hurricane hunters like Kibbey busy. Two storms, Harvey and Irma, killed more than 140 people in the southeast and caused hundreds of billions of dollars in damages. Puerto Rico's government raised Hurricane Maria's official death toll to 2,975 last month after maintaining for months that 64 people had died.

"It's on par with the storms we flew last year, like Maria and Irma," Kibbey said.

Flaherty, who is also a meteorologist, said the storm is "life-threatening."

"We want to make sure that we get the best data going to the National Hurricane Center ... and to emergency managers and to the media so we can get people out of the way," Flaherty said.

More than a million people in the southeast United States faced mandatory evacuation orders. Flaherty urged people to heed those warnings.

"Every time there's going to be those people who decide to stay," he said. "We read about their names and their stories, and we want to try to know why they didn't go."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 441935

Reported Deaths: 5885
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin918591461
Ramsey39405729
Dakota32551324
Anoka30638354
Washington19827221
Stearns17686184
St. Louis13453237
Scott1178693
Wright11485101
Olmsted1024870
Sherburne812364
Carver686636
Clay643278
Rice595266
Kandiyohi551069
Blue Earth533833
Crow Wing476573
Otter Tail449860
Chisago446331
Benton414885
Winona383946
Douglas370366
Nobles364646
Mower358026
Goodhue340757
Polk326754
McLeod321644
Morrison308743
Beltrami305746
Lyon298735
Itasca281143
Becker279438
Isanti279440
Carlton276942
Steele26879
Pine263813
Freeborn237219
Todd230029
Nicollet222136
Brown212334
Mille Lacs211645
Le Sueur206515
Cass203823
Meeker197433
Waseca187515
Martin168226
Wabasha16712
Roseau164916
Hubbard146937
Redwood138527
Renville136139
Houston133213
Dodge13134
Chippewa130632
Cottonwood125118
Fillmore12084
Wadena118214
Rock108511
Sibley10757
Aitkin106633
Watonwan10548
Faribault103214
Kanabec96818
Pennington95915
Pipestone92522
Yellow Medicine92514
Murray8585
Jackson84510
Swift82617
Pope7355
Marshall70115
Stevens6968
Clearwater68114
Lac qui Parle65216
Lake62215
Wilkin6179
Koochiching57910
Lincoln4771
Big Stone4513
Unassigned43568
Grant4247
Norman4218
Mahnomen4077
Kittson36619
Red Lake3154
Traverse2433
Lake of the Woods1741
Cook1130

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 300884

Reported Deaths: 4197
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk44949440
Linn17563269
Scott15228161
Black Hawk13552228
Woodbury12896175
Johnson1191749
Dubuque11229148
Pottawattamie8863112
Dallas874169
Story857433
Webster464768
Cerro Gordo458766
Sioux452451
Clinton445461
Warren430637
Marshall424561
Buena Vista389029
Muscatine382275
Des Moines377340
Plymouth347967
Wapello336796
Jasper315955
Lee310828
Marion298852
Jones268949
Henry262130
Carroll252233
Bremer240048
Crawford227622
Boone214116
Washington213531
Benton207543
Mahaska189936
Jackson189631
Tama184757
Dickinson183225
Delaware171136
Kossuth169241
Clay165319
Wright161724
Fayette157022
Buchanan156920
Hamilton156828
Hardin153129
Harrison152961
Winneshiek150819
Clayton149848
Cedar149119
Butler145423
Page143115
Floyd137236
Cherokee137125
Mills135216
Lyon133132
Poweshiek131024
Hancock127924
Allamakee125927
Iowa122122
Calhoun12159
Jefferson118623
Grundy118522
Winnebago117229
Madison11639
Mitchell114634
Louisa113729
Cass111741
Chickasaw110111
Sac110115
Emmet109931
Appanoose108838
Union107922
Humboldt103919
Guthrie102124
Shelby101026
Franklin99818
Unassigned9370
Palo Alto8969
Keokuk84225
Montgomery82722
Howard81119
Monroe79918
Pocahontas77211
Clarke7717
Ida73530
Greene6837
Davis68221
Adair68120
Lucas6458
Osceola6349
Monona62316
Taylor5889
Worth5873
Fremont5005
Van Buren49112
Decatur4744
Ringgold4229
Wayne41321
Audubon4118
Adams2923
Rochester/St. Mary'S
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Mason City
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Austin
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