Aerial Thunderstorm/Convective Research & Chasing

Andy Lawrence

I was wondering if anyone has ever explored aerial storm chasing and used aerial images to study storms from above.

Showers and thunderstorms are giant waterfalls in the sky when viewed from the air, a lot can be taken away and learned especially when Gibson ridge 3D volumetric images are combined with the aerials, you can find storm height and the gustfront height and just use them as a fun case study tool like we have done below.


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I believe one of the mods here has done it before, or he at least talked about it in the past. I'd reach out to @Skip Talbot for more info. I've also seen a dramatic increase of drone usage for chasing which makes for some awesome video.
I’ve put my drone up several times times just for fun. My goal really is, despite the challenges, to fly it into a tornado. I’m not trying to learn anything scientifically, just as a challenge, which I thought might be easier than it is. I’ve lost one drone in the process.
A couple things I’ve learned is with a low based storm you don’t gain a whole lot visually before losing all sight. Another is that unless it’s a relatively slow moving storm, you’re screwed unless you can launch from a position more or less in front of the storms path.
One thing that I’ve found out is you can put the drone up and get great looks at a storm when trees, lack of roads or terrain don’t let you see. It’s frustrating when a storm looks good on radar and you can’t see it. A drone solves that.
Small drone will likely be flung around haphazardly.

A couple of suggestions.

Hobby rocket enthusiasts are looking at ways to de-spin footage

So they might help you.

Doswell’s footage of Pampa showed cables hanging vertically while entrained in the circulation.

This might allow a drone to have stability if a helium balloon is on a tether above the drone and one with a heavy gas is beneath it.

Remember, some high altitude balloons can endure high speeds aloft.

Now while this may also be a lightning hazard (use robot arm to deploy)—kites have been used as camera platforms:

In earlier posts, I made mention of camera systems designed to peer through darkness and rain…like this:

Having smoke bombs along a project mogul type balloon chain with go-pros along its length may allow footage actually useful to scientists.