NOAA prepares new digs ahead of hurricane season

- Tons of snow-like foam fell from the ceiling of a new hanger at Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Tuesday, creating a sight most don't see every day.

A crowd watched from a catwalk in awe. Although it was quite a sight to see, it was actually a test of the fire suppression system at the new home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA. 

"This was just incredible," said Gayle Gard, who came to experience the event. "I have never seen anything like this at all. It is just magical."

NOAA is in the process of moving from MacDill Air Force Base to Lakeland Linder.

Equipment for NOAA's IT department is the first to move to the new location. Soon, the Hurricane Hunter jets that fly right into the center of storms will be moved into the hangar. The most sophisticated ones can cost $100 million, and that's even before the storm tracking equipment is installed.

About 100 people got a great show, albeit a short one. The system dumped 12 feet of foam in just a minute and a half. If there was a real fire, the system would spray 60 feet of foam over the jets and everything else in the hangar.

But for this exercise, fire officials say they have the reassurance they need from the system.

"They passed and exceeded all expectations," said Lakeland Fire Inspector John Mc Grath.

NOAA officially opens its new headquarters on June 2. The official first day of hurricane season is the day before.

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