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NOAA scientists plan to fly drones into hurricanes

Hurricane_Katrina_August_28_2005_NASA copyGULF OF MEXICO — The point where the roiling ocean meets the fury of a hurricane’s winds may hold the key to improving storm intensity forecasts — but it’s nearly impossible for scientists to see.

That may change this summer, thanks to post-Hurricane Sandy federal funding and a handful of winged drones that can spend hours spiraling in a hurricane’s dark places. The drones will be transmitting data that could help forecasters understand what makes some storms fizzle while others strengthen into monsters.

Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration plan to test five or six drones in the peak of hurricane season. The $1.25 million project is among a slew of other NOAA hurricane research funded by last year’s Sandy supplemental bill that authorized $60 billion for disaster relief agencies.

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