A Saildrone built to withstand hurricane-force winds dared to enter Hurricane Fiona on Thursday, Sept. 22, and it witnessed scenes of chaos within the Category 4 storm.
Multiple videos were released by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Saildrone Inc., some of which appeared to show the uncrewed drone sailing off the edge of cliff.
In other instances, it faced a wall of white water that stretched as far as the lens could see.
The Saildrone Explorer “SD 1078 is battling 50-foot waves and winds measured over 100 mph to collect critical scientific data and, in the process, is giving us a completely new view of one of Earth’s most destructive forces,” Saildrone reported.
The videos were recorded about 315 nautical miles south of Bermuda, as the storm began its trek north along the East Coast. It is not expected to make landfall in the United States.
Saildrone posted some of the clips on YouTube, where viewers admitted becoming seasick.
“Imagine being on a boat and not knowing which way up is,” one man wrote.
Fiona is the first Category 4 storm of the season and has winds of 130 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center. Winds of up to 70 mph are being felt up to 205 miles from the storm’s center, NOAA reports.
The storm was about 155 miles northwest of Bermuda and moving at 25 mph early Friday, Sept. 23.
Four Saildrones have been used to explore Fiona at various points in its development from tropical storm to hurricane. Scientists say recording the storm from start to finish will help “improve predictions of rapid intensification.”