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Could Storm-Chaser Drones Have Saved Us from Hurricane Sandy?

Written by on Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Hurricane Sandy is gone, leaving the eastern seaboard to slowly pick up the pieces. Sandy may not have been as devastating as Hurricane Katrina, but it struck so far north that it ravaged many areas that weren’t prepared for flooding. Dams and sand bags can save a city from natural disasters, but ultimately nothing is as valuable as information. It may be hard to find the silver lining after such a devastating storm, but the good news is that NASA is working hard to make sure that a hurricane never catches America by surprise again.

Drones have completely revolutionized combat, so why not use them to revolutionize meteorology? NASA is working on a pair of experimental drones that would fly around the world to collect data on storms and other major climate events.

Image source: Wired.com


They’re using the Global Hawk as the base design. Used by the USAF, the Global Hawk can stay aloft for more than 30 hours and it has a service ceiling of 65,000 feet. That means that it can safely cruise high above the dangerous winds of a hurricane and monitor the storm for more than a full day. NASA performed a few tests with their newly-dubbed Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel, but as luck would have it they just missed Sandy. The drones were over by the Pacific for a new set of tests when Sandy unexpectedly showed up in the Atlantic.

Scott Braun, a research meteorologist and the mission director for the Sentinel, said “Imagine right now being able to do these flights over Sandy where you’re buy antibiotics uk mapping out the surface wind field, particularly in areas north of the storm which has slammed into the areas of New Jersey and New York. Measuring that surface wind field could prove critical for forecasting.”


Braun added that this technology won’t fundamentally alter meteorology. Scientists will still need to rely on manned crews to track storms, but these storm-chasing drones will be powerful tools that can help world prepare for hurricanes.

As you can see, there’s much more to aerial warfare than just warfare. The military might invent a hammer with the purpose of using it as a weapon, but in times of peace it could just as easily be used as a tool to build houses. The same goes for drones. They might not always be incredibly popular because of how they’ve been used in the past, but the potential applications of drones are nearly unlimited. Thinking outside of the box and figuring out how to use military technology during peacetime could lead to a more productive society.

In the near future, will groups of meteorologists team up with the USAF and military consulting firms? It seems a little odd, but it might not be far off from the truth. Building a state-of-the-art drone to track the movements of suspected terrorists really isn’t all that different from building a state-of-the-art drone to track hurricanes. Groups like NASA, the USAF, and military consulting firms could ultimately help governments save lives and spare billions of dollars in property damage the next time a super storm rolls around.

If you want advice about the world of military aviation, there’s no better people to turn to than men and women who have sat in the cockpit and flown some of the world’s most advanced aircraft. With over 50 current and ex-warfighters on call, Strike Fighter Consulting Inc. can give you access to up-to-date, first-hand technical and tactical expertise.

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