For the majority of the public, the closest they'll ever get to a hurricane is on the news. Thanks to the Weather Channel's new series Hurricane Hunters, that's all about to change.
The docu-series, which premieres June 11, follows the lives of the world's most extreme meteorologists as they fly directly into the eyes of hurricanes to get the crucial data necessary to help determine the storm's path and strength. The film crew, led by director Christian D'Andrea, accompanied a squad of hurricane hunters as they flew into every major hurricane and tropical storm of the 2011 season, including Hurricane Irene.
While most pilots are trained to avoid bad weather, hurricane hunters go right into it. "Any good story has the belly of the beast," D'Andrea tells TVGuide.com. "These guys, these heroes, go into the belly of the beast 24/7 every day. That's what you're going to see. These trips into the belly of the beast."
One of the pilots featured on the show is Maj. Sean Cross, who is currently living out his childhood dream for the 12th season in a row as a hurricane hunter. For Cross, there's no doubt that the risks attached to the job are worth the reward. "When you see that firsthand right out in front of you, it's incredible," Cross says of seeing inside a hurricane. "It's Mother Nature's way of throwing you a bone and letting you take a look inside some of her most incredible things that she's created."
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He adds: "I've definitely had some moments where I've done some soul searching and asking myself why I'm doing this, because you know it looks really cool on TV, but there are some moments when you come across some really bad pockets of turbulence and you are holding on for dear life."
The pilot describes the series as "an X-ray look at our mission," which details not only what it's like to fly inside a hurricane, but also the personal sacrifices that go along with the job. In an upcoming episode "Hitting Home," Cross' own personal struggles are brought to the forefront when he learns that a storm he's set to fly into might hit the town where he lives with his wife and son.
"He goes up in the plane and he's thinking not only about the entire Gulf Coast which might be hit, but also, 'I'm not at home right now to help my family prepare,'" D'Andrea explains. "That's a whole new kind of pressure that we've never seen as viewers or citizens before."
Check out the series premiere of Hurricane Hunters Monday, June 11 at 9/8c on the Weather Channel.