PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic — Passengers aboard Flight JBU1016 out of Punta Cana to New York City Monday evening got take a flight path most meteorologist can only dream about. Right through the center of a Major Hurricane.
After taking off the transponder onboard the Airbus A320 reported the plane took a direct route to New York passing right over Fiona as it climbed to 30,000 feet. This while at the same time Hurricane hunters were flying into the storm to take measurements of Fiona to declare it a Category 3 Major Hurricane. The first one of 2022.
As risky as this sounds, the reality is that it is possible to fly over a Hurricane. Most cloud tops inside tropical systems go up to 30 to 40 thousand feet and as long as the aircraft is equipped with radar to monitor the echo tops as most modern jet liners are then the flight should be ok.
But as Nick Underwood Hurricane Hunter with NOAA put out in a tweet “depending on the cloud top heights, you can fly over a hurricane, but it is still not something I would recommend. Anything over a Cat 2 you can to much outflow and the ride gets unpleasant."
This is especially the case with an intensifying storm system as Fiona was, on occasion cloud tops can overshoot rapidly creating strong updrafts within the storm and thus increase turbulence.
The Jet Blue Flight did land safely in New York and in response to people questioning their choice of flight path on twitter the companies official account responded with this GIF of a dancing bear saying, “We got this."