weather

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A new way to collect weather data is being tested this week.

Dozens of researchers from four universities—Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Kentucky, and the University of Nebraska—are piloting unmanned aerial vehicles as part of a four-year, $6 million project with the National Science Foundation.

But Dr. Jamey Jacob of Oklahoma State University says they’ve been interested in this idea for some time.

Summer officially began at 12:24 a.m. ET Wednesday, but as the Southwestern United States bakes in a heat wave, the season may already feel like a long and sweltering slog there.

The mercury hit 119 degrees Fahrenheit in Phoenix on Tuesday, 117 in Las Vegas and 121 degrees in Palm Springs, Calif.

It’s been a wild weather week across the country, from historic rainfall and flooding in the Midwest, to a possible tornado spotted near Atlanta to a blizzard in the Plains region.

Here & Now‘s Jeremy Hobson speaks with AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson (@BrettAWX) about what’s driving the unusual spring weather.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

U.S. DROUGHT MONITOR

Frigid temperatures never fully took hold in Oklahoma this winter. February saw record high temperatures, and instead of ice and snow, wildfires were the main weather-related concern, and drought — though improved — has persisted across much of the state.

In a statement summarizing February’s weather highlights and looking ahead to March, State Climatologist Gary McManus says the first two months of 2017 broke the record for the warmest combined January and February in state history.

Multiple destructive storm systems damaged property and killed at least 19 people over the weekend, and continued to batter much of the U.S. with rain, snow and wind today.

All 19 reported deaths were in the South, where apparent tornadoes ripped through towns over the weekend, damaging and destroying buildings in multiple states.

"Trailers are just flat, just laid on top of people," Debbie Van Brackel, a volunteer EMT in Adel, Ga., told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday. "You need a bulldozer to pull it off. Trailers are upside down."

Every morning in a government office building in Boulder, Colo., about a dozen people type a code into a door and line up against a wall on the other side. There are a couple of guys in military uniform, and some scientists in Hawaiian shirts. They work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and they're here for a daily space weather forecast.

If you think it's been hot this year, you're right. The latest temperature numbers from NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say the first six months of 2016 were the hottest on record around the planet.

Temperatures are expected to reach potentially lethal levels this weekend in parts of the Southwest and the Plains. Forecasters say major cities including Phoenix, Las Vegas and Tucson, as well as parts of Kansas and Oklahoma, will reach highs above 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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