Eyes in the sky: Heat-seeking drones used after tornado

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EF-4 Tornado Damage along County Road 39 just east of Cave Mill Road in southwestern Lee County, Alabama

(AP) – After a tornado ravaged a corner of Alabama this week, rescue crews didn’t have to stumble through every destroyed building in their search for victims. Instead, they used heat-seeking drones to let them know whether there was anyone beneath the ruins.

In so doing, they joined the increasing ranks of public safety agencies across the U.S. and around the world that have employed unmanned thermal-imaging aircraft during critical situations, including manhunts, wildfires and other natural disasters.

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In Alabama, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones says it is not clear if drones spotted any bodies or anyone injured or trapped in the debris. But at the least, the technology helped reassure searchers that they hadn’t overlooked anyone in the aftermath of the twister that killed 23 people.

Thermal-imaging drones are cheaper than manned aircraft such as helicopters, which can’t get into tight spaces and require more training.

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Meteorologist Justin Roth weather forecasts can be seen weekend evenings on ABC 36 at 6:30 PM at 11 PM. Justin will also forecast the weather at 10 PM (MyKY 36.2) three days a week. Justin comes to WTVQ from the NBC affiliate in Casper, WY and interned in Knoxville, TN all where he gained the understandings of forecasting mountainous terrains and rapidly changing environments. His forecasts are for YOUR day and making YOUR life just a bit easier. Justin was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from Western Illinois University with Minors in Broadcasting and Mathematics. His interest in weather began at a young age when his parents gave him a book, ‘First Field Guide To Weather’ for his Birthday, ever since then weather has been a passion of his from forecasting to chasing tornadoes. When not forecasting the weather, Justin enjoys exploring new places and anything outdoors. He’s a self-proclaimed history buff and loves rooting for favorite sport teams, The St. Louis Cardinals and Blues. Please feel free to share any outdoor picture you’d like to share with him send them his way at JRoth@wtvq.com And be sure to follow him: Twitter - @JustinRothWx Instagram - @JustinRothWx