A California-based company Saildrone and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released video footage gathered by a Saildrone uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) from inside Hurricane Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane barreling across the Atlantic Ocean.
On Thursday, Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was directed into the midst of Hurricane Fiona, which is currently on a path northward in the Atlantic Ocean and is now impacting Bermuda before crashing into Canada this weekend. Hurricane Fiona is the first Category storm of the 2022 season.
The ocean drone battled 50-foot waves and winds measuring over 100 mph (160 km/h) to collect critical scientific data and, in the process, gave us a completely new view of one of Earth’s most destructive forces. Inside the storm, SD 1078 traveled at sustained speeds of over 9 mph (14 km/h). At one moment, it reached a peak speed of 39.7 mph (64 km/h) while surfing down a massive wave.
SD 1078 is one of seven “hurricane” saildrones deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico this hurricane season to gather data that will help forecasters better understand the physical processes of hurricanes.
“Saildrone is once again demonstrating its ability to provide critical ocean data in the most extreme weather conditions. Hurricane Fiona intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane just before hitting Puerto Rico, causing significant damage and loss of life,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder, and CEO. “The data Saildrone vehicles are gathering will help the science community better understand rapid intensification, giving people living in our coastal communities more time to prepare.”
This is the second video footage Saildrone has released from inside a major hurricane: Last year, a Saildrone USV spent 24 hours inside Category 4 Hurricane Sam, sending back high-resolution video and images in near real-time.