See images of Hurricane Fiona waves from the top of a 50-foot wave

See images of Hurricane Fiona waves from the top of a 50-foot wave
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In the heart of Category 4 Hurricane Fiona, a robotic surfboard managed to brave intensifying ocean swells and stronger winds to capture rare images of the hurricane’s interior.

The ocean drone video, conducted by scientists from the Saildrone company and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, captured some 360 ​​miles southeast of Bermuda, shows eerie blue water and monster waves, accompanied by howling winds. Torrential rain and sinister sea spray swirl as the vehicle rolls and pitches over the turbulent surface of the ocean.

Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was in the best position to capture never-before-seen images of the interior of Fiona, the first Category 4 hurricane of the year, with waves nearly 50 feet high and winds of more than 100 mph on Thursday.

The vehicle was driven into Fiona as the storm was moving north into the Atlantic Ocean.

“[Saildrones are] giving us a whole new view of one of the most destructive forces on Earth,” Saildrone said in a press release.

Four Saildrones have interacted with the storm, beginning Sunday night when it was still a tropical storm east of Montserrat. The storm then intensified into a Category 1 hurricane, colliding with a parked Saildrone south of Puerto Rico, where Fiona first made landfall. Saildrone sent its vehicles at the beginning of the hurricane season to collect critical scientific data in the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.

Fiona will hit parts of Canada as the region’s strongest storm on record

This is the second year that Saildrone has deployed hurricane equipped units in the Atlantic with the aim of obtaining measurements and filming as close as possible to the eye of the hurricane. The company manufactures and designs autonomous surface vehicles that collect ocean data to deepen understanding of hurricanes, map the ocean floor, and track various ecosystems below the surface.

The California-based company boasts that its units have sailed more than 800,00 nautical miles and spent more than 18,000 days at sea collecting weather and ocean map data.

“Saildrone is once again proving its ability to provide critical ocean data in the most extreme weather conditions. Hurricane Fiona intensified from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane just prior to hitting Puerto Rico, causing significant damage and loss of life,” said Richard Jenkins, Founder and CEO of Saildrone.

“The data that the Saildrone vehicles collect will help the scientific community better understand rapid intensification, giving people who live in our coastal communities more time to prepare.”

In 2021, Saildrone and NOAA scientists flew Saildrone United 1045 into Category 4 Hurricane Sam and collected the first video from inside the hurricane.

Scientists Pushed a Robotic Surfboard Against Hurricane Sam and the Waves Were Incredible

The partnership between NOAA and Saildrone is part of a larger effort to understand how hurricanes develop and how they intensify.

“Unmanned systems in the air, on the ocean surface, and underwater and airborne systems have the potential to transform how NOAA accomplishes its mission to better understand the environment,” said Capt. Philip Hall, director of NOAA’s Unmanned Systems Operations Center.

NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and weather buoys collect operational weather observations that are essential for hurricane forecasts.

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