Miami, Florida on Flickr.
Hurricane Edouard was no threat to land as it spun over the Atlantic, but it was the perfect storm for testing drones that U.S. government scientists hope to use to collect storm data in the lowest parts of tropical storms where hurricane hunter aircraft cannot fly.
Scientists also drop canisters filled with electronics to transmit data as they fall to the ocean, but they remain airborne for only a few minutes. Cione said those devices deliver snapshots compared to the lengthy transmissions sent back by the drones.
National Hurricane Center forecasters and other scientists will spend months analyzing the data transmitted by the drones. The preliminary results were potential game changers, Cione said.
One drone followed air currents through the storm. Another drone launched into Edouard’s calm eye was directed into the intense eyewall in a maneuver that Cione likened to merging onto a busy highway.
"There’s no other device that can do that," he said by phone from Bermuda, where the drone-bearing hurricane hunter flights originated. "It orbited the eyewall, and we’ve never measured anything like that." … READ MORE
The drones are named Coyotes. To paraphrase a scientist talking about how well they worked: “It was sweeeeeeet.”