hurricane beryl
Credit: Hurricane Hunters/Twitter

Photos of Hurricane Beryl's Eye Are Strangely Beautiful

The images show the storm’s swirling clouds above ocean waters when Hurricane Beryl was classified as a category five storm.

The so-called "Hurricane Hunters" who fly planes to monitor storms shared images on Monday of Hurricane Beryl making its way across the Atlantic. The images show the storm's swirling clouds above ocean waters when it was classified as a category five hurricane.

During massive storms, social media explodes with visuals collected by researchers and hobbyists. While Hurricane Hunters sounds a little gimmicky, they're actually part of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, an Air Force Reserve unit operating out of Mississippi.

According to Tuesday's announcement, the unit deployed this week to help collect data for the first major hurricane of the season. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Mitchell, the assistant director of operations for 53rd WRS, explained that they collected the imagery when Beryl was classified as a category five, meaning it had winds of 165 miles per hour.

"Our purpose during hurricane season is to collect and quality check the data in storm environments before sending it, in-flight, to forecasters to inject into models and to try and pinpoint the true center of a storm," Mitchell said. "We're often flying in data sparse regions, so being in a storm for as long as possible closes the gap of information that satellites may not be able to determine."

Hurricane Beryl was a category five

On Saturday, June 29, Hurricane Beryl became the earliest storm to develop into a category five hurricane. Within 24 hours, Beryl developed wind speeds as fast as 75 miles per hour and then it just got stronger. But it has since been downgraded to a category four storm, meaning maximum wind speeds reach 155 miles per hour.

So far, the storm has devastated several Caribbean islands, killing at least seven people, and officials expect it to touch down in Jamaica by Wednesday afternoon. Fortunately, officials also expect it to weaken as it makes its way toward Central America and Mexico.