MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The southeast is already feeling the impacts of Hurricane Dorian as the powerful category four storm slowly moves north toward Florida. The storm has already done major damage in the Bahamas and is expected to linger off the East Coast for much of this week.

Minnesotans are gearing up to help in the storm’s aftermath.

In a warehouse in Burnsville lie stacks of generators and other equipment, some of which is already in route to a staging ground in Atlanta, waiting to be dispatched wherever it is needed most. It’s all the work of Nechama, a Jewish relief organization that provides hands-on disaster relief for free.

“Chainsaw work, gutting of homes wet materials, helping families go through their belongings,” said Dorothy Maples, of Nechama.

Where Nechama trucks end up depends in part on work done at the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

On most days, the National Weather Service station sends up two weather balloons to track our weather. For the past few days, they and about 50 other stations east of the Rockies have been sending up two extra balloons to track Dorian.

“The winds that determine where this hurricane is going to, they are coming across the Upper Midwest. Weather service offices around the United States are launching up weather balloons to measure what temperature is like, what the wind speed is like so we can get a more accurate picture of where it’s going to go,” said Meteorologist Jake Beitlich, of the National Weather Service.

One of their balloons with its instruments will soar to 100,000 feet, sending back data to Chanhassen desks the moment it takes off.

“Every second a new data point gets transmitted back to us,” Meteorologist Caleb Grunzke said.

As the monster storm churns on, the balloon continues to soar, sending back data in real time.

“It’s just a textbook hurricane, meaning a very well-defined eye wall, strong winds – it’s just a very powerful hurricane,” Beitlich said.

Meteorologists at the National Weather Service will continue to send up extra weather balloons for as long as Hurricane Dorian remains a threat.

Esme Murphy

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