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NEWS | Oct. 7, 2020

Hurricane Delta has 403rd Wing evacuating to JBSA-Lackland again

By Lt. Col. Marnee Losurdo 403rd Wing Public Affairs

It was not déjà vu! For the third time this year, the Air Force Reserve’s 403rd Wing relocated its aircraft, but this time it was to get out of the path of Hurricane Delta as it made its way toward the U.S. Gulf Coast.

The wing’s 815th Airlift Squadron, a tactical airlift unit, and the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, or Hurricane Hunters, relocated their aircraft to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas due to the approaching storm.

The Hurricane Hunters continued to fly into Hurricane Delta to provide weather information to the National Hurricane Center, which greatly improved their intensity and track forecasts.

Hurricane Delta intensified into a Category 4 Oct. 7 in the Caribbean Sea with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour and impacted Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula early that day. It was projected to make landfall along the Northern Gulf Coast by Oct. 9, with a risk of storm surge, wind and rainfall hazards from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle beginning late Oct. 8 and into Oct. 9, according to the National Hurricane Center.

“Once again, we are moving aircraft as a precautionary measure ahead of these storms for two reasons: first, to protect the aircraft from damage, and second, so we can continue to fly storm reconnaissance missions,” Col. Jeffrey A. Van Dootingh, 403rd Wing commander, said as the Airmen prepared for the move. “This year has been challenging. This now ties the busiest storm seasons on record, and we are accomplishing the mission providing valuable weather data for National Hurricane Center forecasts, all while mitigating the impacts of COVID-19.

"Regardless of what 2020 throws our way, we have been able to get the mission accomplished thanks to our outstanding Airmen who ensure we are always ready,” he said.