“The parachute is attached, the radiosonde is hooked up and ready to go, we’re about to launch this large weather balloon into the atmosphere to get upper air data” Meteorologist Elisa Raffa, KCAU9 News.
Up, up, and away… It’s not a bird, it’s not a plane…It’s a weather balloon!
The atmosphere doesn’t just sit at the surface, it goes up hundreds of thousands of feet and what’s way up in the air affects what’s happening down here. So yes, to monitor what’s going on in the sky and to better understand the weather, we slap a balloon to a computer called a radiosonde and send it for a ride.
The balloon is made of latex, and filled with hydrogen. A parachute is attached to help ease its fall. The balloon rises about 100,000 feet into the atmosphere, that’s three times higher than an airplane….and grows to the size of a single car garage! The balloon is in flight for about an hour an a half until it bursts when it hits very low pressure, and falls back to Earth.
“The instrument says harmless weather instrument, so if people find it, they aren’t afraid of it because you just never know these days what’s out there! There’s a note that says they can mail it back if they want and then there’s a bag in there with postage paid so they can just drop it in the mail” says Becky Kern, NWS Omaha Meteorologist.