Saildrone, NOAA and Rutgers improve Hurricane Beryl monitoring

July 10, 2024  - By
Photo: Saildrone and NOAA.

Photo: Saildrone and NOAA.

As Hurricane Beryl moved across the Caribbean, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has partnered with Saildrone to deploy seven hurricane-tracking saildrones in strategic locations.  

These unmanned surface vessels (USVs) are equipped with a specialized “hurricane wing” to withstand extreme wind conditions. The USVs are gathering real-time data on key atmospheric and oceanic parameters such as wind speeds, wave heights, temperature, pressure and salinity​. 

Hurricane Beryl 

Hurricane Beryl impacted Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and the Yucatan Peninsula. Residents were urged to complete preparations to protect life and property as the storm progressed. 

Two saildrones were deployed in the Gulf of Mexico, launched from St. Petersburg, Florida, and Port Aransas, Texas, and five more in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, launched from Jacksonville, Florida, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These systems provide critical data to improve the understanding and prediction of tropical cyclone intensity changes, particularly rapid intensification — where hurricane wind speeds increase dramatically in a short period. 

To enhance these efforts, Rutgers University deployed underwater gliders that work in tandem with saildrones. These gliders measure temperature and salinity at various depths, offering a detailed picture of the ocean’s conditions before, during and after a hurricane.  

The collaboration aims to provide high-resolution, coordinated measurements from the ocean surface to the atmosphere, enhancing situational awareness for forecasters and improving the accuracy of hurricane intensity forecasts. 

Advanced Technologies  

Equipped with a “hurricane wing,” Saildrone’s USVs can collect continuous data in harsh storm conditions, providing real-time insights into the physical interactions between the ocean and atmosphere. Underwater gliders, deployed by Rutgers, aid in measuring subsurface ocean conditions, which are critical for understanding how variations in temperature and salinity affect hurricane strength. 

The information gathered by these technologies is extremely valuable for enhancing predictive models, ultimately helping to improve disaster preparedness and response. The partnership between Saildrone, NOAA and Rutgers University represents a significant step forward in the use of uncrewed systems for environmental monitoring. 

Photo: Saildrone and NOAA

Photo: Saildrone and NOAA