By Lauren Piette
On October 10, 2018, a hurricane made landfall and shortly after became classified as an unprecedented Category 5, hitting the Florida Panhandle region. The storm caused catastrophic damage, and widespread destruction was rampant across Florida. Communities such as Callaway, Mexico Beach, and others around Panama City were obliterated. What else endured this hurricane’s devastating path? Tyndall Air Force Base. Two years later, the Tyndall AFB hurricane rebuild began. Let's take a look at the progress so far.

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Tyndall Air Force Base: In-Depth Welcome Center

What Hurricane Hit Tyndall AFB?

Tyndall AFB was hit by the hurricane now known as Hurricane Michael. Tyndall AFB was directly in the path of this powerful and destructive tropical cyclone. Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous U.S. since 1992 when Hurricane Andrew struck. Breaking records, Hurricane Michael was also the first Category 5 hurricane to impact the Florida Panhandle and was one of the most intense hurricanes ever to hit the U.S. in October. Before sensors at Tyndall Air Force Base failed, Hurricane Michael was measured to have a maximum wind gust of 139 mph.

A Challenging Road to Recovery

So, just how bad was Tyndall AFB after Hurricane Michael? The Air Force base suffered billions of dollars worth of damage. The eye of this Category 5 hurricane passed directly over Tyndall Air Force Base, causing a total of $25 billion in damages. Approximately $5 billion of those damages occurred at Tyndall AFB, as nearly every building on base was destroyed beyond repair. Assisting with the road to recovery, the Air Force allocated $648 million for immediate repairs to help get the base back to pre-storm capacity.

Tyndall AFB Hurricane Rebuilding Effort

The redesign effort includes several design and planning strategies:
  • Address surge and high wind probability
  • Consolidate development to use land efficiently and create a USAF community
  • Support mission readiness
  • Provide more resiliency, sustainability, and smartness

Home to Three F-35 Squadrons

While the rebuild of Tyndall AFB is significant for several reasons, most importantly, the base is now home to three F-35 Squadrons. The addition of the F-35 Squadrons to the base ensures that airmen will continue to have a competitive advantage when it comes to fighter training and combat readiness. Despite its vulnerability to hurricanes, the airspace surrounding Tyndall AFB allows for the continued innovation, testing, and development of dynamic aircraft.

The Smart Base of the Future

After enduring devastating hurricane damage, Tyndall AFB’s rebuild is well underway, and the goal of the rebuild is to redevelop and design the base to be more resilient and sustainable. To accomplish this feat, the latest technology and smart systems are being incorporated into redesign plans. Currently, the Air Force is working with AT&T to transform the base’s communications infrastructure with 5G-powered capabilities, which will support virtual and augmented reality capabilities. Tyndall AFB will be one of the first bases to showcase what 5G has to offer the military and how it has the potential to transform DoD operations on military bases. Tyndall AFB will also use 5G for surveillance, wide-scale video, and analytics, which opens up the potential for increased security and emergency response times on base.

Preparations for the Next Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is on the horizon, and according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, June 1 to November 30 is expected to have above-normal storm expectations. So, what exactly is Tyndall Air Force base doing to prepare? Tyndall Air Force Base is conducting a comprehensive evaluation of procedures and policies to make sure that all information is up-to-date should the base have to react to a hurricane. The Tyndall AFB “Hurricane Smart Book” contains information from local and base guidance, preparation resources, and information from national agencies to assist residents. While the impacts of a hurricane are no stranger to those living on Tyndall AFB, the base and its occupants have taken the lessons learned from 2018 to better prepare for this year’s hurricane season.

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