Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Look What I Found

The other day, Luke & I were driving down the road along the edge of our property and we noticed something hanging from one of the trees. Strange. Didn't think too much about it; left for the weekend. A few days later I went for a walk to get some fresh air and decided to go see what it was that was hanging in that tree.

It was still there, a white paper box hanging from a very long string. My eyes followed the string up to the very top of a neighboring tree and I spotted what looked like a popped, orange balloon. So I got a stick and finally was able to break the box free from the string it was attached to & this is what I found:

  On the box it says it's a "harmless weather instrument". It's a balloon-borne instrument used by the NOAA National Weather Service to obtain weather data used for forecasting and weather research. It came with a pouch and says that if found, please return. I did some research online about the "Mark IIA" and it said they fly above 90% of the Earth's atmosphere and can travel for hundreds of miles before the balloon pops. Once the balloon pops, an orange parachute (what I saw in the tree) slowly floats the Mark IIA down to the ground. It says only about 20% of the launched weather balloons are ever found and returned so I think it's pretty cool to have found one.

I emailed the National Weather Service to see if they could tell me where it was sent from and when it was sent because I was SO curious. They actually emailed me back with lots of info! It was launched on Dec. 14 from Topeka, Kansas (about 250 miles away). The balloon burst at 103,709 feet and the coldest temperature recorded was -90.6F. The fastest wind it experienced was from the Southwest at 150 MPH at an altitude of 36,830 ft.

Luke asked me if I now want to be a meteorologist, but I don't think I will take it that far. I do think this is pretty cool though!