RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, otherwise known as NOAA, is an agency that provides weather forecasts. This includes severe weather warnings and climate information, like if we have a record-breaking hot or cold year. But now they’re in the record books.
The Guinness Book of World Records has awarded NOAA two different records, both for devices used in hurricane observing and forecasting.
The first is for the highest wind speed recorded by an uncrewed surface vehicle called a Saildrone, which measured a wind speed of 126.4 miles per hour inside Hurricane Sam back in September of 2021.
The second record is for the longest endurance inside a tropical cyclone by an uncrewed aircraft. This award was given when an unmanned drone flew into Hurricane Ian in September 2022 for 102 minutes when it was a Category 4.
For decades hurricane hunters have been flying into hurricanes, but now they’re using unmanned drones to get valuable weather data from the lowest part of the storm.
“In a hurricane, we typically fly 8 to 10 thousand feet, we don’t like being low, it’s rather unsafe to be near the ocean,” explained Jonathan Zawislak, a hurricane scientist with the University of Miami and NOAA. “So, what these drones do, is we pilot them down toward the ocean surface in the areas we don’t want to take our manned aircraft and they’re taking those really critical measurements between the ocean surface and the atmosphere.”
While it’s great that NOAA has been entered into the record books, but the most important part of all this isn’t the record: it’s the observation of tropical systems!
Even when the Saildrones and drones don’t break records, they are still gathering all important weather data that researchers use to learn more about hurricanes and tropical storms, ultimately improving forecasts and saving lives.