Watch footage of Hurricane Fiona surfing a 50ft wave

Watch footage of Hurricane Fiona surfing a 50ft wave
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At the center of Category 4 Hurricane Fiona, a robotic surfboard braved intensifying ocean waves and gusting winds to capture rare footage from inside the storm.

Taken about 360 miles southeast of Bermuda, video from an ocean drone piloted by Saildrone and scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration depicts blue waters and terrifying waves buffeted by howling winds. Torrential rain and terrifying sea spray swirl as the car rocks and bounces on the ocean’s stormy surface.

Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was in prime position to capture never-before-seen footage from inside Fiona, the year’s first Category 4 hurricane with waves of nearly 50 feet and winds of more than 100 mph on Thursday.

As the storm moved north across the Atlantic Ocean, the car was diverted towards Fiona.

“[Saildrones are] It gives us a whole new look at one of Earth’s most destructive forces,” Saildrone said in a news release.

Four Saildrones interacted with the storm starting Sunday evening when it was still a tropical storm east of Montserrat. The storm then made landfall in Saildrone, south of Puerto Rico, where Fiona first made landfall, becoming a Category 1 hurricane. Saildrone sends its vehicles to gather critical scientific data in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico at the start of hurricane season.

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

This is the second year Saildrone has deployed hurricane-equipped units into the Atlantic Ocean with the goal of obtaining measurements and images as close to the eye of the hurricane as possible. The company manufactures and designs autonomous ground vehicles that gather ocean data to deepen understanding of hurricanes, map the ocean floor, and monitor diverse subsurface ecosystems.

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

“Saildrone once again demonstrates its ability to deliver critical ocean data in the most extreme weather conditions. Hurricane Fiona weakened from a tropical storm to a Category 1 hurricane before making landfall in Puerto Rico, causing significant destruction and loss of life,” said Saildrone Founder and CEO Richard Jenkins.

“The data collected by Saildrone vehicles will help the scientific community better understand rapid intensification and give people living in our coastal communities more time to prepare.”

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

Scientists rode a robotic surfboard into Hurricane Sam and the waves were incredible

The collaboration between NOAA and Saildrone is part of a larger effort to understand the development of hurricanes and how they intensify.

“Unmanned systems in the air, ocean surface, submarine and aircraft systems have the potential to transform how NOAA meets its mission to better understand the environment,” Kapit said. Philip Hall, director of NOAA’s Unmanned Systems Operations Center.

NOAA Hurricane Hunter aircraft and weather buoys collect operational weather observations critical to hurricane forecasts.

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