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Watch forecasters launch weather balloons into Dorian from the North Carolina coast

Newport NC National Weather Service launches weather balloons into Hurricane Dorian

The National Weather Service Office in Newport, North Carolina, launched weather balloons into Hurricane Dorian on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, as the Category 1 storm moved along the N.C. Outer Banks.
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The National Weather Service Office in Newport, North Carolina, launched weather balloons into Hurricane Dorian on Friday, Sept. 6, 2019, as the Category 1 storm moved along the N.C. Outer Banks.

As soon as they pulled the large balloon from the building, Dorian’s winds picked it up and carried it off into the storm.

The Category 1 hurricane continued to bring strong wind and rain to the North Carolina coast and up the Outer Banks Friday as forecasters worked to figure out just what the storm would do next.

The National Weather Service in Newport, North Carolina, shared a video of the weather balloon launch Friday morning.

“Weather balloons sample the atmosphere above us leading to a more accurate forecast,” the NWS in Newport/Morehead City NC said on Facebook.

On a normal day, the National Weather Service says its stations released 92 weather balloons a day.

“The balloon flights last for around 2 hours, can drift as far as 125 miles away, and rise up to over 100,000 ft. (about 20 miles) in the atmosphere!” the NWS said.

“Weather balloons are the primary source of data above the ground. They provide valuable input for computer forecast models, local data for meteorologists to make forecasts and predict storms, and data for research,” according to the NWS.

The balloon carries an instrument to measure air pressure, temperature and humidity called a radiosonde as it travels up into the atmosphere, the NWS said.

“A transmitter on the radiosonde sends the data back to tracking equipment on the ground every one to two seconds. By tracking the position of the radiosonde, we can also calculate wind speed and wind direction,” the NWS said.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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