08/25/11 — Air Force evacuates planes from projected storm path

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Air Force evacuates planes from projected storm path

By Staff Reports
Published in News on August 25, 2011 1:46 PM

The approach of Hurricane Irene has convinced Air Force officials at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to evacuate approximately 60 F-15E Strike Eagles and seven KC-135R Stratotankers to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana today.

Planes started leaving this morning.

The threat of high winds was cited in a base press release regarding the evacuation issued late Wednesday.

At this time, Irene is expected to strike the North Carolina's Outer Banks sometime Saturday afternoon and could be packing winds up to 115 mph. It's expected to skirt the East Coast as far as New England before dissipating. But the possibility still exists that it could turn inland and the Air Force is taking no chances.

Planes are also being evacuated from other Air Force bases that could be affected, from Homestead AFB in Florida to Langley AFB in Virginia and Dover AFB in Delaware.

The Air Force is moving 23 war planes from Homestead. Most will go to Carswell Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, Texas. Two F-15 Strike Eagles assigned to the base will fly to Jacksonville International Airport, which shares land and facilities with a Florida Air National Guard base.

Patrick Air Force base in Cocoa Beach, Fla., is at Hurricane Condition 4, declared when the forecast calls for the arrival of a tropical storm with 58 mph sustained winds or greater within 72 hours. Evacuation plans are "pending," according to the release

At Dover AFB in Delaware, evacuation plans are also being weighed today as the storm moves up the East Coast. And at Norfolk Naval Station, ships have been ordered to leave port to avoid the brunt of the storm

Besides evacuating planes and some personnel, hurricane response teams at bases in the storm's path have been placed on alert and any outdoor items that might become projectiles during high winds are being stored.

Seymour Johnson personnel and other Wayne County residents have been advised to prepare for a hurricane watch that includes high winds, possible flooding and tornadoes.

For more information on the Air Force's response to the storm and to read the base's hurricane preparation guide, visit the base website at www.seymourjohnson.af.mil.