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Drones Help Track Severe Weather Threats

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KWGS News File Photo
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Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University are jointly developing drone technology to more accurately forecast the weather.

Phil Chilson, professor at the OU School of Meteorology, said the university has tried to use drones in meteorology since 2008, but their efforts advanced in 2015 with National Science Foundation funding, The Journal Record reported.

A “long-recognized lack of observation” in the bottom 2 miles (3 kilometers) of the atmosphere hinders storm forecasting, Chilson said.

While existing radar can correctly show what is happening inside storm cells, such as the height and position of a hail core, it struggles with external factors such as a possible influx of cold or warm, moist air that can fortify a storm. Also, data collection via radar can be expensive, Chilson said. That is where drones can make an impact.