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  1. Hurricane

MacDill moves out aerial tanker fleet ahead of Hurricane Dorian

The aircraft are being sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as a precaution with high winds projected during the storm

TAMPA — KC-135 Stratotankers with the Air Force’s 6th Air Mobility Wing are being flown away from MacDill Air Force Base to remove them from the threat of damage from Hurricane Dorian.

RELATED STORY: Hurricane Dorian projected to become a major hurricane as it churns toward Florida

The aircraft are being sent to McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas as a precaution, with high winds projected during the storm, according to a news release from MacDill. The tankers will return to Tampa when conditions return to normal.

RELATED STORY: Tyndall Air Force base finds new mission with the billions to be spent repairing hurricane damage

“The safety of our service members, families, and aircraft are paramount,” Col. Stephen Snelson, 6th Air Mobility Wing Commander, said in the release.

The wing has 24 of the Stratotankers, a four-engine jet made by Boeing from 1957-1964 to refuel other aircraft in midair. Approximately 16 to 18 are scheduled to leave for Kansas.

At a Thursday press conference, Snelson said experts from MacDill recently visited the Tyndall Air Force Base which was damaged by Hurricane Michael about 10 months ago. Many lessons on preparation strategies were learned, he added.

RELATED STORY: Reconnaissance jets moved to MacDill from base in Nebraska as snowmelt floods Midwest

On Wednesday, Snelson placed the base on HURCON 5 status, meaning destructive winds were possible within 96 hours.

As of Thursday morning, no personnel evacuation was expected but base leaders are in communication with Hillsborough County emergency management officials.

“Prepare now,” Snelson advised. “Don’t wait.”

2019 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide

HURRICANE SEASON IS HERE: Get ready and stay informed at

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PROTECT YOUR PETS: Your pets can’t get ready for a storm. That’s your job

NEED TO KNOW: Click here to find your evacuation zone and shelter

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