+ What goes up, must come down
It’s a bird … it’s a plane … it’s a NOAA weather balloon.
Every day, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launches weather balloons from 102 sites in the U.S., Caribbean and Pacific to help with weather forecasting.
And one of those balloons made landfall in the Longboat Observer’s very own parking lot.
As the balloons rise through the atmosphere, radiosonde sensors measure and transmit profiles of air pressure, temperature and relative humidity from the Earth’s surface to approximately 20 miles high in the sky. The data the balloons collect helps forecasters identify and warn the public about severe weather.
The balloon eventually pops, and the radiosonde falls to the ground. It’s contained in a white box that’s labeled “harmless weather instrument.”
Each balloon has its own addressed, postage-paid mailbag to allow finders to send them back for recycling, which allows NOAA to reuse the radiosondes and save taxpayer dollars. NOAA recovers less than 20% of the radiosondes it releases each year.