UAS Aid in South Carolina Tornado Investigation



Photo: SkyView Aerial Solutions.


Imagery from an unmanned aircraft was instrumental in categorizing a recent storm in South Carolina as being a weak tornado, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The National Weather Service’s Eastern Region UAS team was set up in the spring of 2015 to study the use of unmanned aircraft for post-storm damage assessments. In December, they teamed with a local UAS operator SkyView Aerial Solutions to provide aerial footage of a storm in Berkeley County, South Carolina, that proved to be a short-lived tornado but would otherwise have been classified as just straight-line winds.

“Without this aerial data, our office would have likely classified the damage as being a result of straight-line winds from a thunderstorm, rather than tornadic damage,” says Ron Morales of the National Weather Service office in Charleston. “We look forward to our continued partnership with SkyView Aerial Solutions and potentially other UAS companies in the area. These type of partnerships undoubtedly help to support our mission and increase our understanding of the science, particularly as it relates to our warning operations.”

SkyView Aerial Solutions, based in Summerville, South Carolina, has a Section 333 exemption with the Federal Aviation Administration to fly UAS for commercial use, including quadrotors and fixed-wing UAS from DJI and 3D Robotics.

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