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Airdropped Spotters make direct observations of Hurricane Idalia to improve existing forecasts

Sofar Ocean

On Monday, August 28th, 2023, U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Scientific Development Squadron VXS-1 airdropped 10 Spotters in the path of rapidly intensifying Hurricane Idalia. The goal of the mission, which was coordinated by Sofar Ocean and its partners in the National Oceanic Partnership Program (NOPP) Hurricane Coastal Impacts (NHCI) project, was to make real-time observations of extreme conditions near Hurricane Idalia's eye wall as it moved through the Gulf of Mexico. Two days later, the fleet of freely drifting Spotters successfully collected this ground truth data just before Hurricane Idalia made landfall near Keaton Beach, Florida as a major Category 3 storm.

Visit our Hurricane Season 2023 webpage to learn more about:

  • Key observations of wave spectra, barometric pressure, and other variables made by the airdropped Spotters.
  • Logistics of the airdrop mission conducted by NRL.
  • How Sofar, its NOPP partners, and other key stakeholders will use the Spotter observations to validate and improve existing forecast models, increase our understanding of hurricane dynamics, and protect coastal communities.

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