Denver hurricane hunter: Sandy tracking flight ‘bumpiest I’ve ever been on’

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ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. -- Snow, ice, 80 mph winds and a whole bunch of turbulence.

That’s what Andy McDonald, director of photography for the Weather Channel show “Hurricane Hunters,” faced during a multiple-hour flight tracking Superstorm Sandy on Monday.

FOX31 meteorologist Jennifer Broome spoke with the Denver-based photographer Tuesday morning.

“It was definitely a bumpy ride, one of the bumpiest I've ever been on,” McDonald said. “We were at about 5,000 feet and above Atlantic City, which kind of got the brunt of this storm.”

McDonald said his crew experienced a daunting array of obstacles as they stared out at a storm that was 1,000 miles wide and felt 80 mph winds toss their plane back and forth as they approached a runway in Atlantic City.

As the flight was descending, McDonald said his pilots identified a first for any hurricane he has tracked – snow and ice building up on their plane.

That wintry mix and the size of this storm is what makes this particular hurricane so devastating, McDonald said – far more devastating than Hurricane Irene, which rocked the East Coast in 2011.

“Sandy is just a much bigger storm,” McDonald said. “The closer we got to land, the more the unique parts of this storm started affecting our plane.  It’s a landing our pilots and I will never forget.”