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What does the inside of a hurricane look like from the water?

Answer: A whole lot of wind and water.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has found yet another useful application for drones — sending them into hurricanes. NOAA positioned a surface drone in the ocean right in the path of Category 4 Hurricane Sam, currently making its way through the Atlantic Ocean, to get some quality data readings from inside the storm.

The Saildrone Explorer SD 1045 held its own against 120+ mph winds and 50-foot waves, mostly thanks to its special hurricane wing. It even managed to capture some video footage, which looks like something out of the special effects department in Hollywood. All of this data will help researchers better understand, and therefore be better able to predict, hurricane behavior.

“Using data collected by saildrones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes,” said NOAA scientist Greg Foltz in a statement. “Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities. New data from saildrones and other uncrewed systems that NOAA is using will help us better predict the forces that drive hurricanes and be able to warn communities earlier.”

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