The WP-3 Orion Hurricane Hunter rocketed through the late season cyclone dubbed Patricia, buffeted by turbulence unusual even for a mission into the gullet of a monster.
Flight meteorologist Mike Holmes’ keyboard clapped up and down, knocking out programs on his screen. A laptop jostled free of its storage and hurtled the length of the cabin like a missile. Crew members braced against a ricochet that tested limitations – human and machine alike.
At 1:33 p.m. on Oct. 23, 2015, pilots penetrated the storm’s tightly wrapped core into an eye of blue. But it was 1 minute earlier that history was made.
Hurricane Patricia’s winds were measured at more than 200 mph. The Pacific Ocean hurricane was well beyond the magnitude of a Category 5 storm. It was the strongest, most intense, hurricane on record.
But that wasn’t even the biggest news.