DISASTERS

$42 million 'nose-to-tail' project will upgrade engines, wings, radar on hurricane planes

  • Technicians remove the forward radar cover of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Technicians remove the forward radar cover of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Chris LaLonde works on the the engines on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Chris LaLonde works on the the engines on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

  • Technician Joseph Klippel works on the engines on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)

    Technician Joseph Klippel works on the engines on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's P-3 turboprop aircraft "Miss Piggy" Friday, May 15, 2015, at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla. While best known as “hurricane hunters,” NOAA’s four-engine WP-3D turboprops support a wide variety of national and international meteorological, oceanographic, and environmental research and monitoring programs in addition to hurricane research and reconnaissance. Projects range from air chemistry, climate, and ocean heat content studies to satellite data validation. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)  (The Associated Press)

Miss Piggy and Kermit are getting new engines, new wings and different radar.

Every hurricane season, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration flies two, technologically packed aircraft into storms for research and forecasting. One's dubbed "Miss Piggy," while the other is "Kermit."

This season, a $42 million "nose-to-tail" project upgrades key components on the 38-year-old planes that fly through storms at speeds of up to 300 miles per hour. The money comes from Superstorm Sandy disaster relief funds.

NOAA officials estimate that the refurbishments could keep them flying for decades. The improvements will also mean better fuel efficiency and additional safety for the crew and scientists that fly in the mobile weather stations.