I don't know how often you get to peer inside a hurricane, but that's exactly what dramatic new footage from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) gives us the chance to do - and all you need is YouTube.
A sailing drone, the Saildrone Explorer SD 1045, shot the video inside Hurricane Sam on 30 September 2021. NOAA says the uncrewed surface vehicle (USV) had to deal with winds of 193 kph and waves of 15 meters.
I'm not gonna lie: just in case you're somewhere safe, warm and dry, you might want to check out the video footage below. The category 4 hurricane is not something you want to be stuck inside when you're on the beach.
SD 1045’s mission is to collect real-time data that can be used to improve hurricane prediction models. It's equipped with a "hurricane wing", so it can keep recording even in the stormiest of conditions.
"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," says Saildrone founder and CEO Richard Jenkins.
"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."
A 7-meter long drone, the Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 is loaded with weather and oceanographic sensors, as well as microphones and cameras. It's powered by sunlight and wind, and it uses artificial intelligence to analyse data as it comes in.
The drone is operated via satellite by a pilot and can survive at sea for a year. Five of these autonomous devices have been out in the Atlantic, and the fleet as a whole has logged more than 13,000 days on the waves, covering more than 500,000 nautical miles.
At the time of writing, Hurricane Sam had been downgraded to a category 2 storm at the time, but it was the longest-lasting and most intense hurricane of the Atlantic Ocean season in 2021.
Eventually, this technology could be used to track hurricanes as they develop, providing advance warning about what they might do next.
"Using data collected by sail drones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes," says oceanographer Greg Foltz from the NOAA. "Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities.
"New data from sail drones 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."
It's like they're saying, "Get outta here human, we got this..."
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