OSU drone program aims to unravel weather secrets

Graduate students at Oklahoma State University are designing an unmanned aerial vehicle —- more commonly known as a drone —- to fly by remote into storms and gather data to improve the understanding of weather systems.

The work is part of the university’s unmanned aerial systems degree program.

The idea is for the students to design and create — starting with a clean sheet of paper — an unmanned vehicle that will be flown into the lower levels of super cells to collect meteorological information, including data on the formation of tornadoes.

“That’s where most of the circulation starts to build up when a tornado is forming. Right now, there are a lot of unknowns on how a tornado forms. We’d like to get measurements where now we don’t have good data,” said Jamey Jacob, professor of aerospace engineering. “What we want to do is answer the question ‘Why does one super cell form a tornado when another does not?’

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