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US stock market daily report (August 11, 2014, Monday)

August 12, 2014, Tuesday, 05:46 GMT | 00:46 EST | 09:16 IST | 11:46 SGT
Contributed by Millennium Traders


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a pair of aging hurricane hunter Florida-based airplanes built in 1976 - Lockheed WP-3D Orions - are receiving a retrofit this month, leaving just one plane available to fly when storms threaten the East Coast. The hurricane hunter airplanes have flown into more than 100 hurricanes, providing data for U.S. meteorologists to issue warnings pertaining to storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean. The hurricane hunter airplanes would be obsolete by 2019 without the $35 million in upgrades. The enhancements scheduled are expected to extend the lifespan of the planes into 2030. Fuel efficiency is expected to be improved with the enhancements as the planes fly into winds that can exceed 150 miles (240 km) per hour.

Commander Devin Brakob, a NOAA aircraft specialist who has flown into 15 storms over the past 10 years said, “It’s like riding a giant wooden roller coaster.”

Work on the two hurricane hunter planes has been staggered over several years to ensure one plane is always available to track a storm's intensity and path for meteorologists. The planes are stationed on the west coast of Florida at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa and typically alternated 12-hour flights through approaching hurricanes. Hurricane hunters fly up to 15,000 feet (4,500 meters) and are accompanied by Gulfstream G4s circling as high as 50,000 feet (15,000 meters), tracking the development and path of storms.

Hurricane hunter airplanes have become famous in coastal communities over their decades of risky missions. Each plane carries radar, weather sensors and computers used to track a storm in 'real-time'. During late 2013, NOAA began upgrades to the pair's 10 Rolls-Royce turbo propeller engines. NOAA will install new computers and electronic systems on the airplanes, this month. In March 2015 NOAA will begin to work on the planes wings.

Funding for NOAA is by the U.S. Department of Commerce and scheduled improvements are part of $310 million in federal aid following Hurricane Sandy. Hurricane hunter airplanes provide data to forecasters at the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami.

NOAA has never lost a plane during a storm. The nearest NOAA came to losing a plane was in 1989 - a hurricane hunter flew into the eye wall of Hurricane Hugo and two of its four engines shut down due to a problem with the fuel control system.