NORFOLK -- The 2014 East Coast Hurricane Season is in full swing. So far, Hampton Roads has missed being hit by Arthur and Bertha and, this week, Hurricane Cristobal is expected to stay off the coast but churn up the surf.
Sailors and Marines in Norfolk are always watching storms to see how they could impact the fleet and Hampton Roads. The military is often called upon to help before and after natural disasters to help save lives, alleviate suffering and protect property.
The Navy's Fleet Weather Center on Naval Station Norfolk is the military's command center for East Coast storms, where personnel assess how bad a storm may be to begin preparations for protection and response.
Sometimes, a storm's track makes it necessary to move ships to safer waters or get them ready to help elsewhere along the East Coast once a storm passes by. On Wednesday, sailors and Marines went through their paces to make sure they're ready if the call comes.
"It's an exciting mission, it's unique," said Fleet Weather Center Commanding Officer Captain Rich Delgado. "We want to make sure that we're providing the information for ship COs and fleet commanders to make the right decisions at the right time to stay safe and effective."
And the up-to-the-minute weather predictions are much appreciated. At Little Creek, hundreds of sailors and Marines from the USS Whidbey Island and Navy Expeditionary Combat Command trained on how they'd load supplies for a future humanitarian relief mission.
Leaders there said having accurate weather data is critical.
"I've got to tell you that our weather guessers are very good at what they do and truly give us accurate timelines and predictive models," said NECC commanding Officer Rear Admiral Frank Morneau.
The Whidbey Island's CO, CDR Chris Wells agreed.
"They're an integral part of the Navy combat team," he said. "They're going to give us a heads-up on the weather several days in advance."
The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30.