Diagram Showing Oklahoma State University's Drone Flight Path During A Storm. (Photo: Oklahoma State University)
Diagram showing Oklahoma State University’s drone flight path during a storm. (Photo: Oklahoma State University)

This past week has given us two days of violent weather that has killed at least 30 people in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee and the storms are forecast to continue. It is an average of fourteen minutes between when a city or town gets a tornado warning and when a twister touches down according to the national average from NOAA.

But that warning time could increase to an hour with the help of data from unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly called drones, according to Oklahoma State University. In the future, the information collected by drones could help meteorologists make better tornado forecasts. Wow!

A group of students are working to design and develop drones to fly into storms and collect a storm’s pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speeds. Oklahoma is keenly interested in this work: it is in the middle of Tornado Alley. According to NOAA, the state had 63 tornadoes last May alone.

The goal of this project is to build several drones that will fly into storms with wing sensors to collect data, as well as with targets that drop into the storm from the aircraft.