Weather Balloon Launch

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Lincoln, IL (WMBD) – Twice a day meteorologist like Mike Albano launch weather balloons at national weather services offices around the U.S.   

“We like to do that twice a day so that the forecasts are up to date and it’s the latest and greatest information. Because all lot of these upper atmospheric disturbances that come through, they’ll move through at maybe 150- 200 mph. These move pretty quickly within that 12 hours. So, every 12 hours we wanna make sure we’re sampling the latest and greatest from above.” says National Weather Service Lincoln Office Staff Meteorologist Mike Albano

While weather maps show rain and clouds on more of a 2D plane. Weather balloons allow meteorologists to see the weather vertically.

“Each level of the atmosphere has something to offer us for our forecast analysis. Each layer of the atmosphere will give us a little bit more information that we can then make a more accurate forecast.” he says

Before the launch, the pieces for the weather balloon must be assembled.

“It’s about a forty-minute process to get all this equipment set up before we release it into the air.” he says   While the latex balloon is filling up with gas. Albano sets up the instrumentation and attaches its parachute all with simple string.

“It’s called a radiosonde. It’s got a temperature boon, a humidity sensor, it also collects the pressure that allows us to track through GPS in the atmosphere. From that we get our wind speed and direction.” he says.

And now the radiosonde and the balloon are ready to fly!       Collected data like temperature, pressure, wind, and dew points not only helps them at the local office, but meteorologists across the country.

“That information is immediately sent to our computer modeling center. And they’ll do some analysis to make sure it’s a good set of data. Put it into the models. And then use that information to run our computer models so we can forecast out into the future.” says National Weather Service Lincoln Office Meteorologist Ed Shimon

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