Fifty-foot waves and 150 mph winds. That's what hellacious Hurricane Sam is kicking up as it churns across the open Atlantic Ocean this week.
Now, thanks to a new "saildrone," we have what's thought to be the first video ever taken of these types of conditions on the ocean surface.
"Saildrone is going where no research vessel has ever ventured, sailing right into the eye of the hurricane, gathering data that will transform our understanding of these powerful storms," Richard Jenkins, Saildrone founder and CEO, said in a statement.
Indeed, it's more than just some dramatic video: The drone is also collecting valuable scientific information about these meteorological monsters.
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"Using data collected by saildrones, we expect to improve forecast models that predict rapid intensification of hurricanes," said Greg Foltz, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"Rapid intensification, when hurricane winds strengthen in a matter of hours, is a serious threat to coastal communities," Foltz said. "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."
The mission is a partnership between NOAA and the private firm Saildrone, Inc.
Equipped with a specially designed hurricane wing, which allows it to operate in extreme wind conditions, the saildrone is now braving Hurricane Sam in the open ocean. The so-called "robot surfboard" is one of a fleet of five "hurricane" saildrones that have been operating in the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season.
"After conquering the Arctic and Southern Ocean, hurricanes were the last frontier for saildrone survivability," Jenkins said. "We are proud to have engineered a vehicle capable of operating in the most extreme weather conditions on Earth."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Hurricane Sam: Saildrone 'robot surfboard' captures historic video