NOAA to test drones that could improve hurricane forecasts

Snapshot of the drone being released from the Hurricane Hunter Aircraft (NOAA)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – We might still be a few months away from the start of the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane season, but NOAA is working on new ways to gather data within storms.

During the 2021 season, NOAA will be testing a new drone that can fly at the surface of the storm and give scientists a batter understanding of the winds before landfall.

“We should be able to give a better depiction of what the winds are in that lowest layer that the Hurricane Center could use in its immediate forecast for the public,” said Dr. Joseph Cione, with NOAA.

Ultimately, it would help emergency management workers with important decisions like evacuations.

“So far, everything looks really, really good, and we’re pleased with the results,” said NOAA Corps Lt. Cmdr. Adam Abitbol.

So, how is the drone controlled?

“There’s actually a couple different ways we can control it,” Abitbol said. “The first way is it’s fully autonomous, so we can program flight profiles into the vehicle either before we launch it or even after we launch it via our communication link.”

NOAA hopes to fly three to four drones within a hurricane this season for its next testing stage.


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