A bird? A plane? UFO? Nope. Its a weather balloon

The Early evening news on KOTA Territory TV
Published: Dec. 9, 2022 at 6:46 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Meteorologists from Rapid City’s National Weather Service launch balloons twice a day. It is one of 90 offices that use radiosondes attached to weather balloons.

“The radiosondes is collecting temperature data, relative humidity data, pressure data and then with the GPS inside its also collecting and inferring the wind direction and wind speed from the surface all the way up in the atmosphere for about 20 miles,” Scott Rudge, observation program leader at the Rapid City NWS, said.

On days when there is severe weather, including a possible blizzard, the National Weather Service will do supplementary launches. That data is then sent to a supercomputer in Maryland which plots it into a skew-T graph. That graph eventually gets turned into the forecast models you see on your TV screen. Since weather moves west to east, the weather balloon information from Rapid City is not only important here, but for meteorologists around the country.

Rudge added, “The information we get from weather balloons here in South Dakota and you know any place further west or further north. all this weather that comes through our area eventually goes downstream to the eastern part of the United States and so it is important to gather as much data as we can in this area that will help models predict the weather downstream.”