Congressman Jolly wants NOAA’s hurricane hunters to stay in Tampa Bay area

Congressman David Jolly, file photo

NOAA’s hurricane hunters fly through some of the most turbulent weather on the planet but now they are running into their own rough patch.

The Air Force has notified the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that its hurricane hunter unit must vacate a hangar at MacDill Air Force Base in 2017. The Air Force is relocating a group of KC-135 tankers to the base and needs the space.

NOAA first came to Macdill in 1993, moving aircraft and nearly 100 employees to the area.

Congressman David Jolly wants to keep the NOAA unit in the Tampa Bay area.

“Frankly, I think we are going to be able to have a win, win for the Bay area. When the 135s come in that will add additional air assets to MacDill and now we find where to put NOAA assets,” Jolly said.

In order to keep the unit in the area, Jolly is asking the U.S. secretary of commerce to consider moving the unit to the St. Pete–Clearwater International Airport.

“The commerce secretary gave her commitment that their first preference is to keep their NOAA assets and hurricane hunters in the Tampa Bay area. First, it’s the right thing to do for their missions of identifying and tracking hurricanes, but secondly if they were to move out of the Tampa Bay area they would likely lose many of their skilled work force that supports their missions,” he said.

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