With hurricane season in full swing (including one currently barreling toward Tampa, Florida), an unmanned surface drone recently captured video of 50-foot-(15-meter) high waves from a recent big storm that hammered Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Canada’s Maritime Provinces.
Saildrone and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration last week released footage of an uncrewed surface vehicle that was steered into Hurricane Fiona — a Category 4 storm — in the Atlantic Ocean.
The drone, SD 1078, battled 50-foot waves and winds measured over 100 mph (161 kph) to collect critical scientific data and, in the process, gave us a completely new view of one of Earth’s most destructive forces, according to Saildrone.
Inside the storm, SD 1078 sailed at sustained speeds over 9 mph (14.48 kph). At one moment, it reached a peak speed of 39.7 mph (63.89 kph) while surfing down a massive wave, the company said.
SD 1078 is one of seven saildrones that have been operating in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico during this hurricane season, gathering data around the clock to help understand the physical processes of hurricanes. This knowledge is critical to improving storm forecasting and is expected to reduce the loss of human life by enabling better preparedness in coastal communities, according to the company.
Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins said:
“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. 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.”
The company provides data directly to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
Check out the video below.