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Drones to fly into tornadoes

by KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill

Bio | Email | Follow: @kgwrodhill

Posted on June 8, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 3:35 AM

Researchers at Oklahoma State University are designing and building unmanned aircraft, or drones, to fly directly into the strongest tornadoes and send back real-time data to first responders and forecasters.  The research is announced after a series of deadly tornadoes this spring.  To date, Oklahoma has seen seven tornadoes this year with winds exceeding 200 mph.  The May 20th tornado that killed 24 people in Moore Oklahoma was rated as an EF5 by the National Weather Service. 

If all goes as planned, the research drones will detect the making of a tornado based on the humidity, pressure and temperature data collected while traveling through the storms vortex.  The program may find data that leads to earlier warning times.  Other questions that may be answered include why one storm spawns a tornado and another does not.  Researchers also hope to find clues of what leads to the most violent twisters. 

The first drone flight could take place in the next 5 years. 

(The above information was published by the National Weather Association and the Associated Press.)

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KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill, follow me @