Weather Balloons

A weather or sounding balloon is a balloon (specifically a type of high-altitude balloon) that carries instruments aloft to send back information on atmospheric pressure, temperature, humidity and wind speed by means of a small, expendable measuring device called a radiosonde. To obtain wind data, they can be tracked by radar, radio direction finding, or navigation systems (such as the satellite-based Global Positioning System, GPS).

Balloons meant to stay at a constant altitude for long periods of time are known as transosondes. Weather balloons that do not carry an instrument pack are used to determine upper-level winds and the height of cloud layers. For such balloons, a theodolite or total station is used to track the balloon’s azimuth and elevation, which are then converted to estimated wind speed and direction and/or cloud height, as applicable.

One of the first person to use weather balloons was Léon Teisserenc de Bort, the French meteorologist. Starting in 1896 he launched hundreds of weather balloons from his observatory in Trappes, France. These experiments led to his discovery of the tropopause and stratosphere. Transosondes, weather balloons with instrumentation meant to stay at a constant altitude for long periods of time to help diagnose radioactive debris from atomic fallout, were experimented with in 1958.

Weather balloons are launched around the world for observations used to diagnose current conditions as well as by human forecasters and computer models for weather forecasting. About 800 locations around the globe do routine releases, twice daily, usually at 0000 UTC and 1200 UTC. Some facilities will also do occasional supplementary “special” releases when meteorologists determine there is a need for additional data between the 12-hour routine launches in which time much can change in the atmosphere. Military and civilian government meteorological agencies such as the National Weather Service in the US typically launch balloons, and by international agreements almost all the data are shared with all nations.

After they are launched, they can drift up to 120 miles downwind and up to 100,000 ft. (about 20 miles) into the atmosphere.

The weather balloons are made of a synthetic rubber called neoprene or latex. The sides are about 0.051 mm thick before release and will be only 0.0025 mm thick at typical bursting altitudes! The balloons, which start out measuring about 6 ft. wide before release, expand as they rise to about 20 ft. in diameter! A parachute, attached to the end of the balloon, allows the radiosonde to fall slowly to the ground at speeds less than 22 mph after the balloon bursts.

The radiosonde will typically have a bag and instructions attached if you happen to find one. According to Weather Service, only 1 out of 5 radiosonde released are recovered. However, if you do find one, please return it because they can be reconditioned and used. This saves us all money.  Below is a photo of a radiosonde.


Our active weather pattern will continue today on through most of the rest of the week. We had 1.08 inches of rain yesterday in Otsego – Storm chances increase tonight and tomorrow with more rain with perhaps another couple inches in store.  You can keep track on the forecast page where the data is auto updated.  Below are the SPC graphics for today and tomorrow.  We are in the general storm outlook for today and there is a marginal risk for tomorrow.


 

Seven Day Forecast

GRAND RAPIDS WEATHER


KALAMAZOO WEATHER


LANSING WEATHER


Pollen Forecast


A pollen count tells us how much pollen is in the air at a certain time. Pollen counts are generally taken with an air-sampling device, such as a rotorod. The device uses sticky rods that test the air on a regular basis. Every 24 hours or so, these rods are then examined for the number of pollen grains covering the rod. The count is then converted into units of grains per cubic meter of air. Fortunately, these measurements are eventually calculated into an amount that makes sense to the general public: low, moderate, or high.

Warm, dry, and windy conditions have high pollen levels, while rain or cool weather dramatically drops pollen levels. The spring season is typically when pollen levels are highest, when grasses and trees are in full force.  Below is a video explaining its use.

 


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Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

So, April below normal temps and above normal snowfall! What a winter it has been and the cool stretch just keeps going and going. What a year so far! Incredible!

Slim

This was a cold end to the month of April. April will end up being just below average and here at GR the month will have 15 days above average and 15 days below average. The highest for the month will be 77 on the 22nd and the lowest will be 19° on the 1st. 4.9″ of snow fall.
Slim

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

What? April will end up below normal after all of that warm weather hype and talk about April being above normal form mookie! What a Joke!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

15 days above and 15 days below sounds about exactly even to me. Pretty average April month this year.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Once agin you miss the point!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

You never have any point other than trolling.

INDY
INDY

42* degrees feels like 36* degrees out at thee YARDofBRICKS NE GR and rain is it September? Crazzy weather outside! INDY!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Another nice Spring day!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

Some lightning entering the SW part of the state.

INDY
INDY

Hoodies and winter hats today crazzy for April 30th … Our cool Spring continues…INDY!

Mark (East Lansing)
Mark (East Lansing)

My son tried being tough yesterday by wearing shorts to school and he didn’t take an umbrella – both against my recommendation. He texted me from the bus on the way home, begging me to pick him up from the bus stop. Hate to tell you I told you so, kid. LOL

INDY
INDY

I did that years ago going to a baseball game in Chicago shirts tea’s and it was in the 40’s and rainy way cold….INDY!

Mr. Negative
Mr. Negative

10 degrees off (fantasy) forecast, 20+ degrees off average…nothing unusual here, carry on…life in the Southern Arctic. Keep in mind that those 40 degree Thunderstorms are always the most devastating.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

You know it!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Good reads every day MV! If I could go back in time to college, I think I would have changed my studies to something in the atmospheric sciences. Fascinating stuff!

Slim

Weather balloons have and continue to play an important roll in weather forecasting. I now looks like April will end up very close to average across the area with most locations just below or above average. Will have more info on April tomorrow.
Slim

INDY
INDY

Not a warm April at all let’s hope May is better! My furnace is still running… INDY!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

And not a cold April either. Pretty much exactly what April should be.

INDY
INDY

43* degrees out at thee YARDofBRICKS NE GR again 20+ degree’s below average to end April ..Lol….INDY!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

And tell us where we stand for the month. Almost exactly average, actually above average yet yesterday. Just how can this be with the way you carry on?

INDY
INDY

And if the trees had any leafs on them they probably would be changing color lol ..INDY!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

The last day of April and another below normal temp day with clouds and rain! Incredible cool stretch and another lousy Spring day!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

You complain way to much. It hasn’t rained in almost 24 hours, and there’s a reason why people talk about April showers. Usually a rainy month, nothing out of the normal there.

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Get real, this is a lousy Cool, wet Spring day! Face the facts!

INDY
INDY

TRUMP 2020 nother fact! Lol!! INDY!!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Oh boy!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

Nope. Didn’t start raining till about 4 this afternoon. Got all 2 and a half acres of the yard mowed today before it rained.

INDY
INDY

Don’t forget a snowy month also .. Carry on! INDY!

Barry in Zeeland
Barry in Zeeland

What does that have to do with rain or mowing??

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Rock n roll will never die!

Rocky (Rockford)
Rocky (Rockford)

Oh ya the wind chill was in the 30’s! Horrendous late April day! Incredible!