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Humes Finds Weather Balloon– 9 year old Dalton Humes found a weather balloon on his grandfather, Ernest L. Humes’ farm, near Wyaconda, MO. The National Weather Service weather balloons are launched twice daily from nearly 100 locations in the US. Each balloon carries an instrument called a radiosonde. The radiosonde contains sensors, which measure atmospheric pressure, temperature, and humidity. This battery powered device, about the size of a milk carton, relays the information it gathers to a sensitive ground receiver at a tracking station near the launch site. Along with gathering weather information, the balloon’s movement is tracked remotely and this information is used to determine wind speed and direction.
The weather balloons are about six feet in diameter, and are filled with helium or hydrogen gas, and rises up through the atmosphere. The balloon’s flight can last in excess of 2 hours and during that time it can be lifted over 100,000 feet, and drift more than 125 miles from the launch site. The balloon expands to over 20 feet in diameter at it rises. It eventually bursts and a small parachute slows the radiosonde’s descent to earth, minimizing the danger to lives and property
About 20% of radiosondes are found and returned to the NWS for reconditioning. The National Reconditioning Center in Kansas City, MO receives about 1,300 radiosondes a month for reconditioning.