18 February 2011
Posted in WFTV Severe Weather Center 9
Is that a bird? Or a plane? Nope, it’s a weather balloon! Regularly misinterpreted as a UFO, weather balloons can serve as a reliable source when looking at the weather. Weather balloons were first used in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Now, they are not as common as they once were but still can be used to find out more facts about the atmosphere around us. Weather balloons are packed with instruments and then sent up to receive information about the weather around us. The weather balloon reports information about the atmosphere pressure, temperature, humidity, and wind speed.
The actual instrument used is called a radiosonde. The radiosonde is actually what receieves and transmits the information. The balloon is used as a hoisting method and the radiosonde does the rest of the work. Weather balloons can be used as a prediction tool or to measure weather in current time. Weather balloons are also used to monitor pollution, research, aviation interests, photography, and videography. So next time you look up and think you see a UFO, you might just see a weather balloon doing its job.