The agency says data collected by saildrones could help improve storm forecasting.The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has shared what it says are the first images and video captured inside a hurricane by a surface drone. The agency placed the Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 in the path of the category-four Hurricane Sam. The saildrone overcame 50-foot waves and winds at speeds topping 120 miles per hour to capture data from the hurricane and offer a new perspective into such storms.
The device has a special “hurricane wing” to help it survive the intense wind conditions. The SD 1045 is one of five saildrones that have been in the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season. They are constantly recording data to help researchers gain a deeper understanding into hurricanes. The information could help improve storm forecasting, which will hopefully reduce the loss of lives when hurricanes make landfall.
“Using data collected by saildrones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes,” Greg Foltz, a scientist at NOAA, said in a statement. “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.”