Hurricanes are tracked with these Colorado-made weather devices

Local News

LOUISVILLE, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado company has been helping meteorologists at the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center predict Tropical Storm Elsa’s path.

Finland based Vaisala operates a facility in Louisville that builds weather devices, called dropsondes, that are literally dropped from planes into hurricanes.

“There’s a lot of electronics that go into them, GPS sensors, radio antennas, circuit boards, and all kinds of things,” said Chris Vagasky, with Vaisala.

More than 200 dropsondes were deployed during Elsa, measuring temperature, humidity, air pressure and wind speeds.

The devices are dropped out of planes that literally fly into the hurricane.

“These are very brave people who hop on an airplane and fly through storms. Hurricane hunters, as they’ve been called, have been around for about 50 to 60 years,” Vagasky said.

The dropsondes take five to 10 minutes to fall into the ocean and help meteorologists predict the path and intensity of the storm.

“You can get a trend of the intensity of the storm and how it’s evolving over time. Dropsondes improve the forecast of hurricanes by about 10-15% on their intensity. The quality of our five-day hurricane forecasts now are better than our three-, two- and one-day forecasts decades ago, and that’s because of technology like this,” Vagasky said.

It’s technology manufactured not along the coast, but hundreds of miles away in landlocked Colorado.

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