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Can drones help the National Weather Service better predict a devastating tornado?

An aerial view of wreckage left behind by a tornado in a suburban neighborhood.
An aerial view shows homes destroyed by a tornado on March 15th, 2024, in Winchester, Indiana. | Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images

Verizon’s first responder network inked a deal to share its drones with the National Weather Service in the hopes of “rapidly” deploying the drones to survey the aftermath of storms and tornadoes.

The US copes with more tornadoes than any other country, and millions of Americans have been under tornado watches this week as storms sweep across the Central US.

Not only will the new partnership allow the National Weather Service (NWS) to quickly assess storm damage, but drone footage could also inform research into tornado behavior. There’s still a lot scientists don’t know about tornadoes. A better understanding of how they form could help the NWS issue earlier and more accurate warnings to people, which could ultimately help save lives.

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