Weather balloon tangled in a tree

Published 1:19 pm Thursday, January 14, 2021

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Mercy Jantz awoke on Jan. 8 to find a weather balloon tangled in a tree on his property. Now the Victoria man is left wondering who will remove it.

“I am now the proud owner of dangling garbage via the pursuit of science,” Jantz said. “As it turns out, the National Weather Service (NWS) has no provision for the thousands of balloons they launch every day across the country.”

Jantz said he called the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is waiting to hear back on an estimate from a tree service to remove the weather balloon that is approximately 30 feet in the air, according to Jantz.

Jantz said that the NOAA told him the weather balloon likely was launched from the NWS office in Blacksburg.

The reliable weather balloon has been an essential data tool for forecasters for nearly 90 years.

NOAA’s National Weather Service has launched these balloons since the 1930s to collect temperature, humidity and other data in the upper atmosphere as they sail through the troposphere and stratosphere.

Weather balloons are fitted with special data transmitters called radiosondes, balloons are launched twice a day at 92 sites across the U.S., including 13 sites in Alaska.