OKLAHOMA CITY – New cutting-edge technology is showing the aftermath of tornadoes like we’ve never seen it before.
A local company is helping first responders and researchers by using a drone to take pictures, rendering them with new software to create a 3D fly-through of a tornado’s path.
“We’re just starting to scratch the surface,” said Tom Kilpatrick, founder of Clouddeck Media.
Oklahomans are getting a new look at something many have seen one too many times, a 3D view of a tornado’s destruction.
“I stood there and watched the drone basically fly in a lawnmower pattern as it went back and forth and captured 975 images, came back and landed,” said Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick took the devastating pictures with his drone after the deadly May 25 tornado in El Reno, covering all 26 acres of the path.
“The computer will then create this incredible 3D model at high-resolution, 2D map and then you’ve got something permanent that you can look at forever,” said Kilpatrick.
Scott McTompson, a research assistant with CASS, processed the images through the software Pix 4D.
He says it’s a tool that will significantly change meteorology.
“I can look at this image and say, this item is so many meters from this item,” said McTompson. “It’s probably the most complete way to survey damage over a wide area.”
Kilpatrick says it’s long overdue.
“What they’ve never had in the past is the ability to quantitively measure what that storm did,” said Kilpatrick. “You can take pictures, you can look at video, but you can’t really measure the impact it’s made on certain types of structures.”
“We are going to be on the leading edge of weather prediction and modeling in the future,” said Kilpatrick.
Kilpatrick says his drone also has a spotlight to help first responders digging through rubble at night.
It also includes thermal imaging to find victims who are trapped.