Friday, May 2, 2014

Drones may help predict tornadoes in the future

USA Today: Fourteen minutes is how much time a city or town has between a tornado warning and when a twister touches ground, according to the national average from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

But that warning time could increase to an hour with the help of data from unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, according to Jamey Jacob, an aerospace and engineering professor at Oklahoma State University.

Two days of violent weather have killed at least 30 people in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee and the storms are forecast to continue. In the future, the information collected by drones could help meteorologists make better tornado forecasts, Jacob said.

Jacob is leading a team of students in designing and developing drones to fly into storms and collect a storm's pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speeds. "Right now, we don't have a really good way in determining which thunderstorms will develop into tornadoes," Jacob told USA TODAY Network. He added, "We're looking for the fingerprint of the tornado."

Oklahoma is in the middle of Tornado Alley. The state had 63 tornadoes last May alone, according to NOAA. As tornado season gears up again, the OSU team is building drones, which will weigh 35 pounds each and be able to fly up to 12 hours, Jacob said....

An F5 tornado in Manitoba, shot by , Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, Justin Hobson (Justin1569 at en.wikipedia), Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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