Drones hunting hurricanes this season

NOAA puts research drones to the test

Earlier this year, NOAA tested research drones in Maryland that will be used this hurricane season. The goal is to improve hurricane intensity forecasts.

This hurricane season, the latest drone technology will be used to focus on where storms get their energy. This is about 2,000-3,000 feet above the surface of the ocean.

This is the most dangerous part of the storm for Hurricane Hunters, so it often isn’t sampled by the aircraft data.

Right now, we use dropsondes that are sensors released from a NOAA aircraft to the ocean surface collecting data in a hurricane. They give meteorologists a snapshot of the weather conditions.

The drones will create a continuous flow of data in a hurricane. They can ideally collect data for 3 hours and cover 265 miles.

The immediate impact: situational awareness -- showing what is going on with the storm right then and there. This will help forecasters and emergency managers make critical life and death decisions.

The long term impact: more accurate data for forecast models which will lead to better hurricane intensity forecasts.