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I Found A Weather Balloon Today  
User currently offlineBeefer From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 390 posts, RR: 0
Posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3559 times:

Today was sort of interesting. I noticed a orange object in one of our fields today and went to investigate. It turned out to be a National Weather Service Weather balloon. This is the first time we have ever found one of these on our land. Everything was still there including the burst balloon, the orange parachute, and then about 20 feet of rope with the Radiosonde attached to the end.

The Radiosonde includes a postage-paid bag to return it to the NWS. I did a little searching on the web and it said that only about 20% of the Radiosondes they send out are ever returned. I'm sure a lot of them end up in bodies of water and forests where no one will ever find them. I guess they refurbish them and use them again. It was kind of neat to be holding an object that had been around 17 miles high in the atmosphere. The website that I was looking at said that sometimes the balloons don't burst until they are over 100,000 feet.

Has anybody else ever found one of these?

7 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineSushka From United States of America, joined Nov 1999, 4784 posts, RR: 13
Reply 1, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3555 times:

Two of them are let off a day at the SLC airport. They say that they get as big as housed before they pop and fall back to earth.

Pershoyu Spravoyu Litaki!
User currently offlineBeefer From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 390 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 3549 times:

Some more interesting facts I found:

There are 92 Radiosonde stations in the United States (and about 900 in the world) which release these balloons twice a day. That comes out to over 67,000 launches per year. They try to launch the balloons at 12 hour intervals and all at the same time so they can have a "snapshot" of the earths atmosphere.

When the balloons are launched they are about 6 feet wide, but they are about 20 feet in diameter when they burst.

The balloons rise at a rate of about 1000 feet per minute.

I think that the balloon I found came from the Aberdeen, SD weather station. I've sent an email there to see if there is anyway to verify that.

User currently offlineN670UW From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 1618 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 3528 times:

So are you going to send the balloon back?


User currently offlinePHX-LJU From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3507 times:

Just wondering... If they find so few of them, it probably means that they don't continously track their locations. But if that's the case, how do they prevent them from posing a danger to air traffic? Or do they only track them until they reach a certain altitude?

User currently offlineIMisspiedmont From United States of America, joined May 2001, 6544 posts, RR: 29
Reply 5, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 3504 times:

I found one in November 1971 and thought I was doing a service taking it back. Frame it or throw it away, it's disposable.

The day you stop learning is the day you should die.
User currently offlineBeefer From United States of America, joined Jun 2003, 390 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days 1 hour ago) and read 3460 times:

I got a response from the NWS office in Aberdeen, SD today. I had sent them the serial number of the Radiosonde and they were able to tell me that they launched the balloon on Feb. 22 at 5:00 PM. It reached a height of 32,544 meters which is a little over 18 miles. It didn't quite reach 100,000 feet but was pretty close. I found the balloon the morning of Feb. 24th so it had probably landed at my place early Monday but I didn't notice it right away.

Yes, I am going to send the Radiosonde back. The balloon and parachute are just thrown away.

As far as the question regarding the possible danger to aircraft, I think they just play the odds that nobody will collide with one. Also, all the components that make up the balloon, parachute and Radiosonde are all very light and I don't think they would really cause any major damage to an aircraft. The impact would certainly be less than a bird strike.

I was also invited to the Aberdeen office sometime for a tour and they even said they would let me launch one of the balloons. Awesome!!!!

User currently offlineRedngold From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 6907 posts, RR: 40
Reply 7, posted (12 years 3 months 2 days ago) and read 3453 times:

Even if you don't return the Radiosonde device, giving the NWS a call and telling them the serial number is really helpful; it gives them information about air currents that they might not have otherwise known.

Take the tour, you'll be amazed!

(also a weather enthusiast)

Up, up and away!
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