Culture

This drone captured scenes inside the deadly Hurricane Beryl. The data helps forecasts


Claire Grunewald | Miami Herald (TNS)

MIAMI — Within the 25-foot waves and violent winds of the disastrous Hurricane Beryl, one 23-foot long neon orange sailboat-like device stood out against dark ocean water with a front-row seat to the eye of the storm. The object in question wasn’t a boat that got too close to the storm, but an uncrewed hurricane drone called the Saildrone Explorer.

Unlike boats or planes with people in it, the Saildrone Explorer can hold its own on the sea surface in the eye of a hurricane — and send back pictures and data to help scientists forecast storms. Last week, it went inside Hurricane Beryl, while it was a Category 4 storm just south of Puerto Rico.

The drone intercepted the edge of the hurricane and sustained waves of over 25 feet and wind gusts of 53.48 knots (or about 61 mph), according to Saildrone Inc.

The device is one of the latest innovations in collecting data from hurricanes. It can collect important air and sea data from storms and is able to withstand the strongest of them, as seen with Hurricane Beryl, which eventually upgraded to a Category 5, making it the earliest storm to reach that category on record.

“You have to get pretty lucky to get a hurricane. So that’s one advantage of the Saildrones,” said Greg Foltz, principal investigator for Saildrone research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “We can actually move them and get a lot more data that way, by moving them into the path of hurricanes.”

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The drone is one of 12 Saildrones to be deployed this hurricane season to collect data for NOAA. Saildrones are 1,000-pound uncrewed surface vehicles (USV) powered by wind and solar energy.

This Saildrone was expected to deliver hurricane monitoring data for NOAA beginning the first week of August, but it deployed from St. Thomas early to intercept Hurricane Beryl, according to Saildrone Inc. Director of Marketing Jenn Virskus.

Foltz said the idea behind the Saildrone was to try to get unique measurements …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Entertainment

      

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