Image courtesy Saildrone

Drone Sails Into Hurricane Sam and Lives to Tell The Tale… Here’s Video to Prove It

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 11326
September 30, 2021

Saildrone Inc. and NOAA have released what they claim is the world’s first video footage captured by an uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) from inside a major hurricane barreling across the Atlantic Ocean.

NOAA and Saildrone are working together on collecting scientific data from inside Hurricane Sam, currently located some 645 miles south-southeast of Bermuda with sustained winds of 145 mph. For the project, one of Saildrone’s drones, known as the Explorer SD 1045, was directed into the storm where it battled 50 foot waves and winds of over 120 mph to collect critical scientific data and, in the process, give us a completely new view of one of earth’s most destructive forces.

In order to operate in such extreme conditions, the SD 1045 is equipped with a specially designed “hurricane wing” enabling it to continue operating while braving the extreme weather in the open ocean in order to collect real-time observations for hurricane prediction models, helping to gain new insights into how large and destructive tropical cyclones grow and intensify.

Image courtesy Saildrone

The drone used is actually one of a fleet of five ‘hurricane’ Saildrones that have been operating in the Atlantic Ocean during the year’s hurricane season to gather data to help understand the physical processes of hurricanes. Two were deployed from Jacksonville, Florida with the other three deploying from St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. This knowledge is critical to improving storm forecasting and is expected to reduce loss of human life by allowing better preparedness in coastal communities, says Saildrone and NOAA.

“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. We are proud to have engineered a vehicle capable of operating in the most extreme weather conditions on earth.”

“Using data collected by saildrones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes,” said Greg Foltz, a NOAA scientist. “Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities. New data from saildrones and other uncrewed systems that NOAA is using will help us better predict the forces that drive hurricanes and be able to warn communities earlier.”

Check out the footage below:

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