Weather Balloon Radiosonde Stock Photos from the Key West Weather Office
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New NOAA Key West Weather Service Office
New NOAA Key West Weather Service Office
Meteorologist David Ross releasing weather balloon
Weather Balloon rising to the upper atmosphere
Meteorologist David Ross preparing weather balloon for launch
Meteorologist David Ross adding a glow stick to the weather balloon for a night launch
Meteorologist David Ross preparing weather balloon
Meteorologist David Ross preparing weather balloon
Meteorologist David Ross preparing weather balloon
Meteorologist David Ross preparing weather balloon for a night launch
Radar image of a cluster of storms that swept through Key West
Radar image of a cluster of storms that swept through Key West
Meteorologist Kennard "Chip" Kasper discusses current weather conditions with a concerned citizen
Photo from inside operations at the Key West Weather Service
Photo from inside operations at the Key West Weather Service
Meteorologist David Ross preps the computer for the upcoming weather balloon launch
David Ross Releases Weather Balloon David Ross Releases Weather Balloon
Weather Balloon Photo Shoot:
Photo Shoot Account: I went to the Key West Weather Office to learn more about weather balloons and the purpose they serve. The funny thing is this one day shoot turned into a 3 day mission. The weather balloon was set to be released at 7pm so I arrived early at 5pm and took some photos of the new impressive weather facility and met with some of the forecasters. During this time a fierce cluster of storms came sweeping through Key West and I got to see and document what happens behind the scenes when the special marine warnings are issued. I am usually at the other end of the radio listening to the alert tone going off but this time I got to see what goes into this warning process from the source. Since the Florida Keys are surrounded by water we get a lot of special marine warnings for many different hazards from strong winds to waterspouts. I was highly impressed by the forecaster’s professionalism and to see them work together to get the public informed. The tools at hand these guys have to get data and information is really impressive. We had lightning all around the facility which was really neat except all this excitement had a negative effect on the photo shoot. The balloon launched was postponed until after dark. They don’t release the weather balloons directly into a thunderstorm because the data they would receive would not represent the overall conditions over the entire region because a storm can have different conditions and this would only represent the data in this small scale storm and not the overall pattern. It’s critical for this data to be a correct representation of the overall conditions in the upper air of the region because this information is used by computers to create model data that forecasters use to make accurate forecasts. They usually wait for the storm to pass and then release it. There is a cut off time that the balloon has to be launched or the data will not make it into the 0z model runs. On this night we missed the model run input deadline because of the storms but did still release the balloon. Even though it was too late to import the data into the 0z model run the data is still valuable to the local forecasters to make forecasts. The only problem is it was after dark and I wasn’t able to get any good photos of the actual launch. Since this is a photo blog I felt I needed to be able to include photos from the launch and decided to try again the next day. I drove back home (200 miles round trip) and decided to drive back to Key West on Saturday and get some shots during the normal release time of 7pm when there is still light from the sun so I can take some good photos. The weather balloon is also released in the morning at 7am but I was not about to leave my house at 4am to drive to Key West. On Saturday I drove back down through the Keys islands and get to M.M. 28 and the traffic stops. There is a major accident with helicopters landing and dozens of emergency vehicles. It turns out there was a fatal head on collision on the bridge and the road would be blocked for at least 3 hours. In the Keys there is only one road (US-1) and when it closes you are not going to be able to continue to your destination unless you have a boat. Well, that would be well past 7pm so I missed the balloon launch again. I drove back home another 200 miles. Go figure, I attempt to document a weather balloon launch and the weather causes it to be cancelled. It’s amazing how weather really does affect everyone and everything that happens in one way or another.
Success! It takes 3 tries but I get to document a weather balloon launch when it’s still daylight. On Sunday I drove back down to Key West and documented Meteorologist Intern David Ross launch the balloon. At the new facility there is a neat tower with a few flights of stairs that takes us to a platform and engineering room where the balloon is launched. It provided a cool aerial view of Key West and a great launch pad for the balloon launch.
Below is some of the actual data from the weather balloon launch I documented on Sunday:
- The average ascent rate of the balloon was 974 ft/min...
- The balloon made it up to 8.0 millibars before it burst...
- Height was around 106,460 ft were the temperature was -44.9C and the winds were 24 knots from the east.
I also put a few helpful links below for anyone wanting to learn more about weather balloons. Special Thanks to Meteorologist Intern David Ross and Meteorologist Kennard “Chip” Kasper and the rest of the forecasters at the NWS in Key West for letting me document the weather balloon launch. These guys work round the clock to keep the public informed about current weather conditions and any dangers that may be present.
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