Saildrone captures video inside Category 4 Hurricane Fiona

Image captured by SD 1078’s onboard camera on September 22, 2022, inside Category 4 Hurricane Fiona.

For the second year, NOAA and Saildrone hunt hurricanes with unmanned wind vehicles.

Saildrone once again demonstrates its ability to deliver critical ocean data in the most extreme weather conditions.

— Richard Jenkins, Founder and CEO of Saildrone

ATLANTIC OCEAN, USA, September 22, 2022 / — Today, Saildrone, Inc. and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) broadcast video footage collected by a Saildrone Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) from inside Hurricane Fiona, a Category 4 hurricane, crossing the Atlantic Ocean.

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was steered into the midst of Hurricane Fiona, which is currently heading north in the Atlantic Ocean and is expected to hit Bermuda on Thursday evening and the Canadian province of Nova Scotia on Friday. Hurricane Fiona is the first Category 4 storm of the 2022 season. SD 1078 battles 50ft waves and winds measured at over 100mph to collect critical scientific data and in the process gives us a whole new view of one of the most destructive forces on Earth.

Inside the Storm, the SD 1078 cruises at sustained speeds in excess of 9 mph. At one point he reached a top speed of 39.7 mph while riding a massive wave. The vehicle is currently 315 nm southwest of Bermuda.

SD 1078 is one of seven “hurricane” saildrones that operated in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico during this hurricane season, collecting data around the clock to help understand the physical processes of hurricanes. This knowledge is essential to improve storm forecasting and should reduce loss of life by allowing coastal communities to be better prepared.

“Saildrone once again demonstrates its ability to deliver 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 extensive damage and loss of life,” said Richard Jenkins, Founder and CEO of Saildrone. “The data that Saildrone vehicles collect will help the scientific community better understand rapid intensification, giving people in our coastal communities more time to prepare.”

Saildrone provides data directly to NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL) and the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (AOML), Saildrone’s partners in this mission.

The seven saildrones are part of a larger NOAA effort to understand hurricane intensification. NOAA also has underwater gliders, surface dinghies, profiling floats and aerial assets to collectively gain a deeper view of hurricane development than ever before. NOAA’s Hurricane Hunter aircraft and weather buoys collect an array of operational weather observations that are critical to forecasting hurricanes.

“Unmanned systems in the air, on the surface of the ocean and under water have the potential to transform how NOAA fulfills its mission to better understand the environment,” said Captain Philip Hall, director of NOAA’s Unmanned Systems Operations Center, which provides funding for the Saildrone effort. “These exciting emerging technologies provide NOAA with another valuable tool that can collect data in places unreachable with other observing systems.”

SD 1078 is the fourth Saildrone USV to engage with Hurricane Fiona. It was still a tropical storm when it passed over SD 1083, stationed 400 nm east of Montserrat; the vehicle measured wind speeds with gusts of over 40 mph. The storm continued on a due westerly track and had strengthened to a Category 1 as it passed over SD 1031, stationed just south of Puerto Rico, where Fiona first made landfall. The vehicle recorded waves up to 46 feet high and wind speeds in excess of 70 mph, which dropped sharply to 10 mph when SD 1031 was in the eye of the storm. Inside the eye, SD 1031 recorded a minimum central pressure of 986 mb. Stationed north of Puerto Rico, SD 1040 recorded wind speeds in excess of 60 mph and 40-foot waves at the edge of the storm. Data collected by the multiple Saildrone USVs interacting with Hurricane Fiona will provide invaluable information to help better understand the formation of these killer weather systems.

This is the second video footage Saildrone has released inside a major hurricane: Last year, SD 1045 spent 24 hours inside Category 4 Hurricane Sam, returning videos and high-resolution images in near real time.

About Saildrone: Navigating an Ocean of Data, Delivering a World of Possibilities

Saildrone is a small American company that designs, manufactures and operates a fleet of the most capable, proven and reliable unmanned surface vehicles (USV) in the world. Primarily powered by wind and solar power, Saildrone USVs have a minimal carbon footprint and are equipped with advanced sensors and ML technology to deliver critical data and intelligence from any ocean, at any time in the world. year. Solutions include maritime domain awareness, ocean data and ocean mapping. Saildrone operations and data collection services are encrypted and secure.

About NOAA

Climate, weather and water affect all life on our ocean planet. NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict our changing environment, from the deep sea to outer space, and to manage and conserve America’s coastal and marine resources. Find out how NOAA’s science, service and stewardship benefits your community: visit for our latest news and features, and join us on social media.

Susan Ryan
Saildrone, Inc.
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Hurricane Fiona SD 1078 9-22 14-11.mp4

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