Western University tornado trackers leverage new tool for deeper data
Content of the article
Western University’s Tornado researchers are taking tornado tracking to new heights this season, adding a hybrid drone capable of flying 4,000 feet in the air to their arsenal.
The Northern Tornadoes Project (NTP), a research lab dedicated to tracking tornadoes across the country, plans to use the drone this tornado season to improve damage mapping.
Unlike typical drones which operate horizontally, The WingtraOne takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter and flies like an airplane, taking up less space and allowing aerial imagery of damage in difficult terrain.
“The more efficiently we can fly, the faster, the better the data we’re going to collect,” said Connell Miller, research engineer at NTP. “And the more data we’re going to collect will help us determine the type of tornado force, the length of the tornado’s path.”
Using high-resolution images from the aerial device, NTP aims to improve methods of capturing images of damage and tracking and identifying tornadoes.
Content of the article
Think of Google Maps, but with tornado damage, Connell said.
“With drones, when we do damage investigations, we can fly them and (see) the damage down to the centimeter, which is unprecedented,” said NTP executive director David Sills.
While a typical drone can fly for 20 to 30 minutes, the WingtraOne can fly for up to an hour and launch over 400 feet in the air, reaching speeds of up to 100 kilometers per hour.
Data from the drone can help track tornadoes that would otherwise go unreported, Connell said.
“The more data we collect, the better. It is literally the question of whether a tornado occurs in a forest and no one is there to hear or see it, has it really happened?
Last year, Western researchers reported more than 70 tornadoes in Canada, including 42 in Ontario, breaking the record of 37 set in 2009.
Southwestern Ontario, from Windsor to Barrie, is renowned for its frequent and even fatal tornadoes, earning it the title of the province’s Tornado Alley.
It is difficult to predict the number of tornadoes this season, but NTP expects to track more tornadoes than in the past thanks to the new drone, Sills said, adding that tornadoes are most common in summer, especially in July. .