KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Mississippi —
The Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing started relocating aircraft to locations in Texas Sept. 13 as Tropical Storm Sally makes its way towards the Gulf Coast.
The wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, a tactical airlift unit, flew their C-130J Super Hercules to Joint Base San-Antonio-Lackland, and the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, or Hurricane Hunters, relocated their WC-130Js to Ellington International Airport, Texas.
Tropical Storm Sally formed from Tropical Depression 19 the afternoon of Sept. 12 and set a record as the earliest 18th-named storm in the Atlantic. The previous record was Stan, which formed Oct. 2, 2005. This year has seen the earliest-observed C, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P and R storms.
Sally is one of six systems in the Atlantic, including Hurricane Paulette and Tropical Depression Rene. The Hurricane Hunters took three planes to St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, Friday, and are flying both Sally and Paulette providing weather information to the National Hurricane Center, which improves intensity and track forecasts.
“We are evacuating aircraft as a precautionary measure ahead of the storm to protect the aircraft from damage and to continue flying weather reconnaissance missions,” said Col. Leslie Hadley, 403rd Wing vice commander. “It’s been the most active hurricane season on record as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has named storms in the alphabet at an unprecedented rate. Whatever challenges Mother Nature, COVID, and 2020 bring our way, our Reserve Citizen Airmen have worked through these difficulties to accomplish our mission in order to protect lives and property. It is what we do. My Airmen are outstanding and ready to serve.”
According to the NHC, Sally poses a dangerous and life-threatening storm surge for areas from Louisiana to Alabama. Hurricane conditions are expected early Tuesday for areas from Grand Isle, Louisiana to Ocean Springs, Mississippi. A hurricane warning is in effect for Keesler Air Force Base and the surrounding area, so the wing vice commander encourages all Airmen and their families to review their hurricane preparedness strategy and take all appropriate storm response actions.
“Wing members should report at their normal duty times tomorrow,” Hadley said. “Unit members will be released from duty as the weather conditions develop. Unit members who have questions, should speak with their supervisor or unit commander and monitor official base, wing websites and social media channels,” she said. “The safety of our Airmen and their families is their top priority.”