A sailing drone in the Atlantic Ocean sailed into a major hurricane and filmed the chaos inside. This is the first time an uncrewed vessel obtained such footage, and NOAA and Saildrone Inc. published it online for everyone to see.
Seeing inside the storm: Anyone who has been on the ocean in big seas knows that photos or videos can never do it justice. But the Hurricane Sam footage from Saildrone and NOAA is impressive — water whipping off the ocean surface, waves so steep they tip the drone skyward.
The Saildrone Explorer SD1045 was facing 50-foot waves, according to NOAA, and winds above 120 mph. The conditions were beyond rough, but the SD1045 is equipped with a “hurricane wing” to help it operate and keep it from being swallowed by the storm.
The data mission: The Saildrone was facing the most extreme weather anywhere on the planet at the time — Hurricane Sam, a Category 4 hurricane. In the midst of the storm, it was carrying out a mission to collect scientific data.
“Saildrone is going where no research vessel has ever ventured, sailing right into the eye of the hurricane.”Richard Jenkins
As it gathers data, it sends it directly to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory and Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory.
The data should help scientists understand how large tropical cyclones develop and become stronger, so they can improve their forecasting models to give coastal communities more time to prepare for destructive storms.
“Saildrone is going where no research vessel has ever ventured, sailing right into the eye of the hurricane, gathering data that will transform our understanding of these powerful storms,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO.
“After conquering the Arctic and Southern Ocean, hurricanes were the last frontier for Saildrone survivability.”
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