Flying into the eye of the storm: Dramatic video shows NOAA pilots enduring serious turbulence as they head for the center of Hurricane Matthew

By Sarah Dean

This is the incredible moment NOAA pilots flew directly into the eye of Hurricane Matthew on Friday.

Captain Tim Gallagher, who is highly experienced in flying into dangerous weather as a pilot for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, set off with his crew to assess the storm battering the state of Florida.

The aircraft can be seen shaking violently in the video, filmed from inside the cockpit, but the pilots remain calm.

Read more:
Death toll rises in Haiti as residents evacuate US cities and Hurricane Matthew bears down on Florida coast

As it moves further into the storm rain lashes the window and visibility decreases before they crew reach the eye of the storm and an eerie calm washes over the jet.

"The crew just returned from a very turbulent flight into the powerful Hurricane Matthew on WP-3D Orion NOAA43. Take a first hand look at the flight through the eyewall and into the eye of the storm,' the agency said as they posted the video on Facebook.

"If you are in an area that may be impacted by the storm, we urge you to follow the guidance of your local emergency managers,' they added.

Matthew, the first major hurricane threatening a direct hit on the United States in more than 10 years, lashed Florida on Friday with heavy rains and winds after killing at least 339 people in Haiti on its destructive march north through the Caribbean.

Although the hurricane was downgraded to a Category 3 storm as it approached the U.S. mainland, winds gusts of up to 70 miles per hour (113 kph) and heavy downpours were still reported across coastal communities in Florida, the National Hurricane Center said in an advisory.

"We are just bracing and the winds are picking up," Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told CNN early on Friday. "A great number of our residents have taken heed to our warnings and we are certainly concerned about those that have not."

Hurricane Matthew was carrying extremely dangerous winds of 120 mph (195 kph) after pounding the northwestern part of the Bahamas en route to Florida's Atlantic coast earlier, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

Matthew's winds had dropped on Thursday night and into Friday morning, downgrading it to a Category 3 on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of hurricane intensity, where it could either plow inland or tear along the Atlantic coast through Friday night, the Miami-based center said.

Few storms with winds as powerful as Matthew's have struck Florida, and the NHC warned of "potentially disastrous impacts."

The U.S. National Weather Service said the storm could be the most powerful to strike northeast Florida in 118 years.

- Daily Mail

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