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A harrowing journey through Hurricane Ian was captured on video by an engineer travelling onboard a NOAA aircraft who described the flight as one of the “roughest” of his entire career.

“I have never seen the bunks come out like that. There was coffee everywhere. I have never felt such lateral motion,” tweeted National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration engineer and hurricane hunter Nick Underwood on Wednesday night.

The footage shared by the engineer quickly captured the attention of online revellers closely following the Category 4 – nearing Category 5 – hurricane that made landfall on the southwestern coast on Wednesday afternoon, leaving a path of wreckage in its wake and sending more than two million Floridians into darkness.

“I have flown storms for the last six years. This flight to Hurricane #Ian on Kermit (#NOAA42) was the worst I’ve ever been on. I’ve never seen so much lightning in an eye,” Mr Underwood tweeted earlier in the day, before sharing the video footage that showed beds – previously screwed into the walls of the aircraft – spilling onto the floor.

“Holy …,” Mr Underwood can be heard towards the end of the footage as the frame shakes uncontrollably and the sound of constant whirring that’s been heard in the background is temporarily cut off.

“You good back there?” one of the engineer’s colleagues can be heard asking, to which a momentarily flummoxed Mr Underwood replies: “Ah ya, we’re good.”

Though gathering some of the earlier footage at night-time, the engineer explained that his point of view was so well lit up not because of lighting inside the aircraft, but from the intense lightning raging outside the windows.

“This was the eye. You can see the curvature. Understand this is at NIGHT. The light is from LIGHTNING,” he tweeted while sharing a perfectly lit picture.

Travellers on board the Kermit were not, as their title of “hurricane hunters” might suggest, flying around the eye of a Category 4 storm for leisure. As described by the NOAA, the experts on the aircraft play an important role in assisting crew on the ground make forecasts about the path and strength of a hurricane.

Hurricane hunter and engineer Nick Underwood captured stomach-churning footage of his crew flying through the eye of Hurricane Ian on Wednesday as the Category 4 made landfall in Florida


“Data collected during hurricanes by these high-flying meteorological stations help forecasters make accurate predictions during a hurricane and help hurricane researchers achieve a better understanding of storm processes, improving their forecast models,” the NOAA writes on the website describing the team of highly trained specialists.

Mr Underwood also offered up a bit of clarity after sharing the since-viral video on his timeline, which by Thursday morning had garnered more than 1.2 million views and been liked and reshared thousands of times.

“We fly these missions to collect critical data on the storm,” tweeted Mr Underwood, noting that the jet that he was flying in was a WP-3D made for NOAA back in the 1970s. “Everyone is strapped in, and we tie down/stow everything best we can,” he added, before sharing that it was indeed his Adidas sneakers that can be seen flying up beside him.y

The stomach-churning turbulence that Mr Underwood captured even landed him guest appearances on national news programs, something that he later joked about not being the best prepared for as he MacGyvered his hotel room to an impromptu TV studio.

“me in a Fairfield Inn hotel room in Webster, Texas about to go on national television: how do I set up my background to make it look like I’m not in a Fairfield Inn hotel room in Webster, Texas?” he jibed, before sharing a picture of the one book he could have on display in the background: The Nutmeg of Consolation, a historical novel set during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.

“One book on the bed behind me. Aesthetic perfection,” jested Mr Underwood in a tweet.

Fellow hurricane specialists commended Mr Underwood and his colleagues on board the aircraft that steered itself straight into the eye of the storm, noting how their work provides critical data that has the ability to save lives.

“Their morning flights in extreme turbulence provided necessary data making #Ian a 135 kt Cat 4 hurricane on the 11z special advisory today,” tweeted Philippe Papin, a hurricane specialist at the National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center, while resharing Mr Underwood’s original video.

“Wow. Severe turbulence in #Ian was super scary. So much respect for all of @NOAA_HurrHunter and @403rdWing for risking their lives to get critical, life-saving data we could not get any one way,” tweeted senior hurricane specialist Eric Blake.

Since making landfall on Wednesday, Hurricane Ian has prompted President Joe Biden to declare a major disaster in Florida while some residents in the worst hit parts of the state remain trapped in their homes with some taking to social media to issue their rescue pleas.

Businesses and large attractions across the state remained closed for Thursday and Friday, including Disney World Resorts and Universal Orlando, as the storm continued to move through central and eastern Florida. As it blows across the Sunshine State, the storm is expected to drop 12 -18 inches of rain with sustained winds of more than 75mph.

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