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Weather drones and forecasting

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Wednesday, September 18, 2013, 4:38 -

Massive storms can have a devastating effect on a community.

Most recently, heavy rains caused by Hurricane Ingrid on Mexico's Gulf Coast and Tropical Storm Manuel on the country's Pacific Coast have left at least 34 dead and more than one million homeless.

On the Pacific side of things, 15 people died in Guerrero and one person died in Oaxaca. On the Gulf side, 12 were killed after a landslide in Veracruz. Inland, three died in Hidalgo and three in Puebla.

For years, researchers have been tasked with finding better ways to warn the public about severe weather -- leading to the development of civil defense sirens, most commonly seen in tornado alley in the U.S.

Now, researchers at Oklahoma State University are hoping to take weather forecasting one step further with the use of drones.

Unmanned aircraft is being designed to fly into severe storms and collect data, that will be sent back to meteorologists and first-responders in real time, allowing for a better understanding of severe weather.

Capable of flying for 30 hours at an altitude of 21,000 metres, the drones can cover the Atlantic and Pacific basins in one trip.

Eventually, researchers hope to use this data to identify the deadliest storms before they develop. The long-term goal for tornadoes is to be able to accurately predict the strength of a twister ahead of time, as well as the exact course it will run.

These weather machines will be controlled from a laptop or an ipad.

While the drones are still in the preliminary stages of development, they already represent a huge step forward in the world of weather forecasting.

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