Environment Articles – 5 Reasons Incident Response Needs a Weather Station: BONUS #6 Drones



With their ability to improve situational awareness, DRONES are becoming increasingly valuable to incident response. Also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), drones are used for package delivery such as defibrillators, search and rescue, and communications.

During Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath in 2017, drones were deployed to assess the extent of damage, presence of hazardous materials, and search for survivors. Last month, two teens stranded off the coast of Australia were rescued by a drone, which was able to launch a self-inflating raft into the water in under two minutes.

Fire Chief Jonathan McMahan of College Station, TX reported a recent incident: “Fast moving urban interface wildland fire in south College Station yesterday … 10 exposed houses protected, and fire stopped close to an apartment complex. 2 fire department drones in the air providing immediate situational awareness to the incident command team.”*

Weather conditions are a critical factor in drone operation. Access to current meteorological data can help prevent damage to the UAV and its surroundings. These are some important parameters to monitor for safe drone operation.

Temperature: UAVs are designed to fly within certain temperature ranges. Extremes can cause damage, overheating, and shorter flight times due to battery drain. Wind Speed/Gusts: High wind speed and strong gusts cause difficulty in maneuvering and steady positioning. Precipitation, Humidity: UAVs do not function well in moisture. As emergency response departments incorporate drone technology, access to current met data can be a key factor in the plan of action.

Response vehicles utilizing weather stations take automatic meteorological monitoring to the incident, creating crucial situational awareness for incident command and helping to achieve success in drone-incorporated missions. For mobile weather stations for vehicles such as vans, RVs and utility vehicles, visit https://columbiaweather.com/products/weather-stations/vehicle-mount/)


*McMahan, Jonathan. (2018, January 23). Fast moving urban interface wildland fire in south College Station yesterday. [LinkedIn update]. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathan-mcmahan-86051...

Additional references:

Avsec, Robert. (2018, February). Drones in the fire service: Expanding operational uses. FireRescue1. Retrieved from https://www.firerescue1.com/emergency-response-in-the-drone-age/articles/376101018-Drones-in-the-fire-service-Expanding-operational-uses/

NVDrones. (2016, June). 5 Ways Weather Affects Your Drone’s Performance. Retrieved from https://blog.nvdrones.com/5-ways-weather-affects-your-drones-performance-de86141bd132

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drones, fire, weather, incident response, public safety, emergency management,


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