SAN DIEGO — A one-of-a-kind air squadron known for conducting weather reconnaissance is on their way to the west coast to track Hurricane Hilary.

The 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron — a component of the 403rd Wing located at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Miss. — is a unique organization, given its status as the only operational unit in the world that can fly these missions on a routine basis.

The squadron — nicknamed the “Hurricane Hunters” — is comprised of more than 100 pilots, co-pilots and weather experts on a mission to provide surveillance of tropical storms and hurricanes for the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

“We punch right through the eye wall at 10,000 ft.,” said Lt. Sean Cross, a pilot with the Hurricane Hunters. “Our job is to go out and track and actually extract information and data from inside the storm.”

Their missions typically span the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico and the central Pacific Ocean. Given the strength of Hurricane Hilary, the squadron has sent aircrafts to the west coast to study its behavior to further scientific understandings about storm patterns.

“Currently, the plan of the day is positive for the West Coast tracking Hilary, so we have three aircrafts in route to California at this time,” Cross said.

According to the pilot, the aircrafts will fly in and out of the storm for about four to five hours at an altitude of 10,000 ft. to gather data about Hilary using onboard equipment.

“One of the tools is the dropsonde — it’s a small device that weighs about two-and-a-half pounds and it drops from the bottom of the aircraft,” Cross explained about one of these tools. “Every 10 ft., it’s taking a snapshot of what’s going on — temperature, pressure, winds and humidity.”

The information collected is then sent to an onboard meteorologist who analyzes it before transmitting the findings to the National Hurricane Center. With the current mission, these findings are then used to create the official forecasts for Hurricane Hilary’s path and impact.

As Hilary continues to move, Cross says the squadron studying the storm will likely be flying in and out of it through Monday.