Have you ever imagined being in the eye of the hurricane? This drone not only imagined it, but was there. This is the Saildrone Explorer SD 1045. The drone that filmed a hurricane from the inside… and lived to tell the tale.
A wing for balance
Chartered by NOAA, it was in the midst of Hurricane Sam, a Category 4 hurricane. SD1045 faced waves of more than 15 meters and winds of more than 180 kilometers per hour. Its purpose was to collect critical scientific data. It provides a fresh look at one of Earth’s most destructive forces.
It was equipped with a “hurricane wing” allowing it to operate in extreme wind conditions. Thus, SD 1045 challenged Hurricane Sam on the open ocean. The information will be useful for numerical hurricane prediction models. It is hoped to understand how large tropical cyclones form and grow.
SD 1045 is one of a fleet of five Saildrones “hurricanes”. They have been operating in the Atlantic Ocean during the hurricane season. They collect data 24 hours a day. This knowledge is critical to improving storm forecasting. It is expected to enable better preparedness in coastal communities.
“Saildrone is going where no research vessel has ever ventured.” Said Richard Jenkins, founder and CEO of Saildrone, in a statement. “We conquered the Arctic and the Southern Ocean. Hurricanes were the final frontier for Saildrone’s survival. It operates in the most extreme weather conditions in the world.”
The drone that filmed a hurricane from the inside will improve forecast models. “We will predict rapidly intensifying hurricanes,” said Greg Foltz, NOAA scientist. “It’s a serious threat to coastal communities. This new data is being brought back by saildrones and other unmanned systems. It will help us better predict the forces that drive hurricanes. Then we could warn communities earlier.”