Weather balloon from Grand Rapids found in Flint
Weather balloons provide important information for forecasters, but nobody knows exactly where they will land.
On Monday, November 6, Jayson Reynolds was at work at the Insta-Lube oil change shop at the corner of Flushing Road and El Dorado Drive in Flint.
He was surprised when he heard something strange land in the parking lot.
"I heard a little thud and I peeked out the door and said that's interesting, I gotta go check that out, and there it was kind’ve scattered all over the place," explained Reynolds.
Turns out, the mystery item is a weather balloon.
"This red light was flashing there. There's the shattered balloon and about 30 feet of string attached to it," said Reynolds.
This balloon was launched earlier that day for training by a company called InterMet in Grand Rapids where they make weather sensors.
"The weather balloons are guided by the wind, so in the summer time there's very little wind in the atmosphere so they may only travel 10 to 30 miles away from the launch point. In the winter time there's a lot of wind in the atmosphere so those balloons can go 100 to 150 miles away," said Rich Pollman, the Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the Detroit National Weather Service office in White Lake.
The National Weather Service launches weather balloons twice a day to measure temperature, air pressure, and humidity thousands of miles up in the atmosphere.
"The weather balloon usually gets to about 100,000 feet, roughly three times higher than the jet airliners fly. Eventually the balloon itself expands so much from the lighter air pressure that it pops and then it falls back down the ground," said Pollman.
Information from the weather balloon is plugged into computers that help forecasters make more accurate weather predictions.
"It's still the most accurate way for us to sample the atmosphere to make those computer model forecasts," explained Pollman.
The National Weather Service says balloons are rarely found.
There are instructions about what to do with it on the package, and in this case it says to dispose of it properly.