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Low: 36     Winds: N 3-6 mph

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The following is an archived video story. The text content of that video story is available below for reference. The original video has been deleted and is no longer available.

Weather Balloon Helps Meteorologists With Accuracy in Severe Weather

WILMINGTON -- The National Weather Service has a lot of technology that helps keep all of us safe. Among their many tools is a weather balloon.

It may not look high-tech, but the information it gathers is crucial.

It takes about seven minutes for the balloon to be filled and ready for launch.

"Whether it's snowing or raining or windy, we're out here launching them all the time," said Meteorologist Mike Kurz, whose team typically launches the weather balloon twice a day: one at 7 a.m., another at 7 p.m.

"They do give us a lot of information, and that covers, it's pretty representative of a pretty large area, it covers several hundred miles. The pressure, temperature, dew point and the winds as it goes up through the atmosphere underneath this balloon that carries it up."

This midday launch is special because of the severe weather threat.

"A lot of things can change, from the time we look at the morning sounding to when we want to know what's going to happen," said Kurz.

After the balloon is tied, he connects a parachute to the bottom. It's for the important square contraption that actually measures the data. It is clearly marked as a harmless weather device, because it could land anywhere.

The device is calibrated, and connects to the system at the National Weather Center in just a few minutes.

The balloon will pop at about 100,000 feet. The parachute will carry the device back down to Earth, but they will probably never see it again. What it collects all the way up through the atmosphere is all the meteorologists care about, anyway.

"So we'll know what to anticipate in terms of storm intensity, hazards that the storm might put out," Kurz said.

All the data is then funneled into the ABC 22/FOX 45 First Warning weather center, where our team of meteorologists get real-time updates, helping keep all of us safe.

 
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