Sustainability Climate Change

Dramatic video from inside Hurricane Fiona caught by Saildrone

An unmanned surface vehicle (USV) was directed into the midst of Hurricane Fiona on Thursday, capturing the first video from inside the now-Category 4 storm that devastated Puerto Rico this week, causing at least eight deaths and leaving the entire island without power.

The hurricane is currently on a path northward in the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to hit both Bermuda and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia by Friday.

The USV – the Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 – continues to battle 50-foot waves and winds measured over 100 mph to collect information about the storm that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) hopes to use to improve forecasting and better prepare coastal communities for future natural disasters.

“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,” Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins said Thursday in a news release.

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 is one of seven “hurricane” saildrones used by NOAA in an effort to improve the agency’s understanding of rapid intensification – when a tropical cyclone’s maximum sustained winds increase by at least 35 mph in a 24-hour period.

It is the fourth saildrone to engage with Hurricane Fiona, the company said Thursday. Another saildrone, stationed just north of Puerto Rico, recorded wind speeds over 60 mph and 40-foot waves on the edge of the storm.