Military.com

Air Force Evacuates Some Bases Before Hurricane Matthew

Some of the approximately 700 family members eventually to arrive at NAS Pensacola as part of Hurricane Matthew evacuation from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay depart their aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo by Cathy Whitney)
Some of the approximately 700 family members eventually to arrive at NAS Pensacola as part of Hurricane Matthew evacuation from Naval Station Guantanamo Bay depart their aircraft. (U.S. Navy photo by Cathy Whitney)

Air Force bases on the East Coast have begun moving aircraft and, in some cases, releasing personnel, as Hurricane Matthew targets the Eastern seaboard.

The 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, at 11 a.m. EDT Wednesday began a personnel evacuation process for non-mission critical airmen, Air Force spokeswoman Erika Yepsen told Military.com.

The base has entered Hurricane Condition II status, according to a base release. Remaining personnel may be released per the base commander's order "once HURCON II actions are accomplished to protect unit mission assets," the release said.

Mandatory evacuation for personnel and residents on barrier islands, in manufactured homes and in slosh zones for the base were to begin at 3 p.m.

Airmen from Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, will begin a similar evacuation process beginning at 3 p.m. The base, in HURCON III mode, has also begun evacuating all operational C-17 Globemasters

-- roughly 30 -- currently on station, according to the base.

The aircraft will go to Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio; Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana; and Campbell Army Airfield, Kentucky, to continue missions from there.

About 44 F-22 Raptor and T-38 Talon aircraft, along with 100 support personnel, will begin moving Wednesday from Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, to Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Ohio, Yepsen said.

HURCON phases are determined when sustained winds hit a certain speed. HURCON II and III are both reached when 58 mph or greater are expected or possible within the next 72 hours, but III distinguishes a preliminary preparation stage. HURCON II is a final preparation stage.

Matthew, a Category 3 hurricane, sustained 140 mph winds as it made landfall early Tuesday in Haiti; on Wednesday, the storm continued to strengthen as it moved west toward the Bahamas.

Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, and Seymour-Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina, are looking at plans to evacuate aircraft, "but no final decisions have been made yet of when and where they will go," Yepsen said.

-- Oriana Pawlyk can be reached at oriana.pawlyk@military.com.

Show Full Article