As a supercell thunderstorm loomed, Eric Frew, an associate professor of aerospace at the University of Colorado Boulder, drove one of the vehicles in a three-vehicle convoy straight toward it.
When Frew references "good" weather, he's talking about the roiling clouds that spit hail and spawn tornadoes, not sunny skies.
An unmanned aircraft, or drone, flew above the convoy and through dark skies to collect data from the storm.
"It is amazing to me how you're driving along for several hours and it's nice, clear, sunny skies, and all of sudden you're under these clouds and it gets dark pretty fast," Frew said of the June 8 storm outside Norris, South Dakota.
Frew was among a group of 16 CU employees and students who spent the first half of June crisscrossing the Midwest in search of monster storms. The CU team of aerospace engineers came equipped with specialized drones they have spent years building and honing, and...