Experience the deadly heart of Hurricane Fiona with incredible footage from Saildrone

Experience the deadly heart of Hurricane Fiona with incredible footage from Saildrone

It’s been a strange hurricane season, to put it mildly. Despite predictions that La Niña would produce more frequent storms, the Atlantic has only had six named storms so far compared to 21 storms in 2021 and a total of 30 in 2020.

Hurricane Fiona is the first Category 4 storm of the 2022 Atlantic hurricane season. Recently, it has wreaked havoc in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, leaving at least eight people dead and many homes destroyed. Fiona is now on a collision course with Canada’s east coast, although it is forecast to lose some of its ferocity along the way.

Footage released by an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) called the Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 shows what it’s like to travel into the heart of the hurricane.

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1078 was sent into the middle of Hurricane Fiona, battling 15m high waves and 160km/h (100mph) winds. Three other Saildrone USVs also recorded data from the storm before it was upgraded to a Category 4.

SD 1078 is now 315 nautical miles southwest of Bermuda, where Hurricane Fiona is expected to travel. It is one of seven Hurricane Saildrones deployed in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico to collect data and provide a whole new perspective on one of the most powerful destructive forces on Earth. The data they collect is vital to improving storm forecasting and helps reduce the loss of life by helping coastal communities better prepare for these devastating storm events.

“These exciting emerging technologies provide [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] with another valuable tool that can collect data in places we can’t reach with other observing systems,” Captain Philip Hall, director of NOAA’s Uncrewed Systems Operations Center, said in a statement.

Hurricanes form when moist air rises over warm ocean water, creating an area of ​​lower atmospheric pressure below. Air from surrounding areas of higher pressure pushes into the area of ​​low pressure. This warms the air, which also rises. The whole process continues as more air rises and more air swirls in from below to take its place. The air at the top cools as it rises, forming clouds and thunderstorms. Once winds reach 120 km/h (74 mph), the storm has officially become a hurricane.

The names “hurricane” and “tropical cyclone” mean the same thing: a rotating system of clouds that has formed over tropical waters. “Hurricane” is used when these storms form over the North Atlantic or Northeast Pacific.

Due to a neat phenomenon known as the Coriolis effect, the air drawn into the center of a hurricane moves to the right in the Northern Hemisphere – meaning the storm appears to rotate counterclockwise – and to the left in the Southern Hemisphere as a result, the storm appears to rotate clockwise. This is caused by the Earth rotating faster at the equator than at the poles.

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