PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WMBB) — Friday afternoon the Tallahassee office of the National Weather Service said they’ll be cutting back on their weather balloon launches due to a nationwide helium shortage.
Meteorologist Felecia Bowser at the Tallahassee office said, “This is not necessarily a new thing, we’ve been kind of keeping an eye on it and so has our regional headquarters as well.”
The Tallahassee office is one of 92 offices throughout the united states that launch weather balloons into the atmosphere twice a day, every day.
They do this to get a profile of current and up-to-date atmospheric conditions. The data collected by the balloon gives forecasting models the ability to foresee approaching weather patterns.
Although the center will no longer have the evening launch, meteorologists say they are still getting the most valuable information.
“They’re still getting at least something, at least one data point for one particular time period. The morning time is almost the most valuable time to get weather data because for the most part weather around here begins in the afternoon.”
Despite the nearing severe weather season, the National Weather Service is confident their forecasters and resources for weather modeling will be able to handle anything thrown at them this spring.
The office will start launching one balloon per day on March 1st.
While some offices can use hydrogen to float the balloon – Bowser says the gas is too flammable and dangerous to be used on the Florida State campus where they are located.