OTR Interviews

Hurricane Sandy: What it's like to ride the 'perfect storm'

Hurricane hunter explains why Sandy is a 'monster storm' and so dangerous


This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," October 29, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Now, some say Sandy is the perfect storm. Most of us, though, have far less flattering descriptions of her. Lieutenant Colonel Jon Talbot is a chief meteorologist for hurricane hunter. He has flown through Sandy twice. He joins us by phone. Sir, before we get to the measurements that you've obtained going through Sandy twice, what's the ride like going through a hurricane?

LT. COL. JON TALBOT, HURRICANE HUNTER: Good evening, Greta. Flying through a hurricane is kind of an interesting thing. Sometimes it can be nasty, sometimes it can be uneventful, and with Sandy, the majority of flights have been relatively uneventful. The last few days, Sandy was an exciting storm to fly through.

VAN SUSTEREN: What do you mean by "uneventful"? Pilots say things are uneventful and those of us in the back of the plane are green.

TALBOT: What I mean is we didn't experience a whole heck of a lot of turbulence or really bad stuff in the airplane. For the most part, it's been a very exciting storm to fly. We're very proud to provide the information and help the warning situation out for the northeast.

VAN SUSTEREN: What did you learn that was helpful to the rest of us?

TALBOT: Well, when we flew through Sandy on Friday, we already noticed that it was starting to become a hybrid type system, and the winds and increased, at least the strong winds, had increased several hundred miles from the storm center. That continued throughout the last couple of days.

VAN SUSTEREN: And in terms of -- I mean, can you compare that hurricane to any sort of other landmark hurricanes that you've flown through that we might know?

TALBOT: Right, exactly. It was very similar to hurricane Irene last summer where the winds expanded several hundred miles out from the center of the storm. In a typical hurricane most of the strong winds are near the core of the hurricane. In this case, obviously the strong winds were hundreds and hundreds of miles out from the center. And that is very similar to hurricane Irene last year.

VAN SUSTEREN: Do you fly straight through it? I imagine it's a rough ride and when you get to the eye of the storm it's calm. Or is that not what happens?

TALBOT: Well, we fly at 10,000 feet, and the idea is to go right through the center of the hurricane so you can measure the core of the storm, and then also measure the winds on the periphery of the storm. So it normally gets very rough right near the center, and then typically out away from the center when the winds lighten up, it's not so bad anymore.

And in this case, for Hurricane Irene, at least on Friday, the strong winds were well out from the center, and we had some really nasty stuff to go through on the north side of the storm, probably 105, 110 miles north of the center.

VAN SUSTEREN: What kind of aircraft do you fly through that?

TALBOT: We use a WC-130J's. Ourselves and NOAA, they use P3-Orions, so they're turbo prop type aircraft. A lot of people ask us why don't you use jets? Typically jets tend to fly a little bit too fast, and we want to go slow to reduce the majority of the turbulence as much as possible.

VAN SUSTEREN: Colonel, thank you, sir.

TALBOT: You're welcome.