Hurricane Fiona: ‘Saildrone’ captures new video of massive waves inside storm

ATLANTIC OCEAN — Video was released Thursday of a sailing drone battling 50-foot waves and winds up to 100 mph inside the first Category 4 storm of 2022.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Saildrone, a company specializing in ocean drones, released new footage from inside Hurricane Fiona.

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was sent into the hurricane last week from Nova Scotia and traveled south until it caught up with the hurricane about 360 miles southwest of Bermuda.

The video shows the 23-foot long wind-powered drone climbing over the windswept waves caused by hurricane-force winds.

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SD 1078 is one of seven hurricane drones used by the NOAA to gather data during hurricane season, a release from the company said.

“Saildrone is once again demonstrating 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 before hitting Puerto Rico, causing significant damage and loss of life,” said Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO. “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.”

According to the company, three other Saildrones have engaged with Fiona at various stages of the storm’s development. Fiona passed over SD 1083 when it was a tropical storm east of Montserrat. When it was a Category 1 hurricane, it passed over SD 1031. A Saildrone station near Puerto Rico, SD 1040, recorded wind speeds of 60 mph and 40-foot waves when Fiona hit the island.

According to the Washington Post, a Saildrone spent 24 hours inside when it was sent into Hurricane Sam in 2021.

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