Aug. 28--NOAA upgraded Gaston from a tropical storm to a hurricane based on real-time data from a Global Hawk drone developed in San Diego by Northrop Grumman. It's the first time that Northrop's best known unmanned aircraft has played such a role.
The National Hurricane Center upgraded Gaston on Thursday, as it was churning away in the Atlantic. The system later reverted to tropical storm status, then mushroomed back into a hurricane over the weekend.
Forecasters say that Hurricane Gaston is currently east of Bermuda, moving northwest. There's a possibility that it will bring heavy rains to North Carolina later this week.
Northrop provided the Global Hawk to NASA for research, and that led to real-time data feeds to NOAA and the National Hurricane Center.
Gary Wick, a NOAA project scientist, said in a statement, "The NASA Global Hawk can fly over a tropical cyclone at 60,000 feet and provide a full three-dimensional picture of storm structure. We are glad that our research mission can provide direct support to forecasters at the National Hurricane Center."
The Global Hawk is primarily used to perform military surveillance, and has been widely used in the Middle East.
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