Aircraft, drones, buoys: high-tech meteorological instruments

You often see meteorologists on TV who tell you about the weather and what you can expect during the day, but you may not know that many high-tech tools are used in their forecasts.

Part of their arsenal includes buoys.

Buoy Array (NOAA)

News 6 chief meteorologist Tom Sorrells said they provide “wave heights, temperatures, wind speed and direction, and maximum wind gusts.”

Sorrells added that there are about 90 buoys along the Florida coastline. This includes some near Cocoa Beach. One is 20 miles, the other is 110 miles.

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Satellites have also come a long way in helping meteorologists do their job.

“The first time a satellite was used for television weather forecasting was in 1964,” Sorrells said.

NASA weather satellite (NASA)

He said that only one or two photos of the sky are provided per day. The images then began to appear in newspapers.

Now, thanks to the latest technology, meteorologists receive satellite images every minute or every 30 seconds in case of severe weather threats.

In severe weather, meteorologists also rely on important information provided by hurricane aircraft.

In “A Conversation with Tom”, Sorrells said that they are critical and provide information like “wave heights, speed, pressure drops, wind direction, how high are the highest winds, what are they closer to the surface, all kinds of things, which we cannot understand just by looking at it from a satellite.”

Airplanes are not the only tool helping meteorologists in the sky.

“Drones are the new fad,” Sorrells said. “If the flight of the plane is not safe enough, drones can get in there and go even lower.”

They were especially useful during Hurricane Yang.

“They thought we had 100 mph winds, but it turned out to be 110, 120,” Sorrells said. “Thus, people who would not otherwise be evacuated were ordered to evacuate in such situations. I believe drones will be the answer to the future.”

Learn more about the weather tools that meteorologists use to make daily weather forecasts at Talk to Tom. You can watch it anytime on News 6+.

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