Tornado scientists send drone fleet into violent thunderstorms news

A supercell thunderstorm, which can generate violent tornadoes, rumbles over Texas.Credit: Getty

Atmospheric scientists will soon get an unprecedented view of the conditions that trigger some of the United States’ most devastating tornadoes.

Starting on 15 May, a fleet of up to four drones will help researchers to monitor supercell thunderstorms. These rotating storms pummel the central United States with lightning, tennis ball-sized hail and damaging winds every spring and summer, and some, but not all, develop tornadoes.

Previous projects have used single drones flying at an altitude of around 300 metres to take measurements from supercells. But the US$2.4-million project, called Targeted Observation by Radars and Unmanned aircraft systems of Supercells (TORUS), will send as many as four drones into these storms, flying up to nearly 800 metres in the air, to gather data

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