Predicting A Hurricane’s Path Is Tricky. This Colorado Technology Helps Track The Storms

September 17, 2018
Photo: Dropsondes In Hurricane Wilma - AP photoAP
U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Deano Harrison, of Biloxi Miss, prepares to drop a dropsonde from a C-130 weather reconnaissance plane into Hurricane Wilma near Cozumel, Mexico Friday, Oct. 21, 2005.

The deadly flooding from Hurricane Florence on the East Coast underscores just how important it is to predict the path of a storm. Millions of people knew to evacuate because of tracking technology developed and made in Colorado.

The fittingly named dropsondes are dropped from planes that fly through hurricanes. The dropsondes, which look like paper towel tubes attached to parachutes, feed data about the storm back up to the pilots. When hurricanes are over open ocean, not even satellites can predict weather patterns.

The Louisville-based company Vaisala makes dropsondes, which were developed by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder. Vaisala Chief Science Officer Kevin Petty talked to Colorado Matters about the importance of tracking and predicting storms.