National Weather Service launching balloons to track heat dome

Posted at 9:28 PM, Jul 09, 2024

BOISE, ID — The National Weather Service is launching weather balloons this week as part of a global effort to track the current heat dome.

  • According to the American Meteorological Society, a heat dome occurs when high pressure prevents warm air from rising, thus trapping the heat as if it were in a dome.
  • The National Weather Service has been launching balloons near the Boise airport to collect data on the heat dome.

(Below is a transcript of the broadcast story)

The heat is definitely on. I'm Senior Reporter Roland Beres out south of the Boise Airport, where the National Weather Service has been launching balloons to keep an eye on the heat dome that is keeping temperatures above 100 degrees.

"It's sticking with this. This is a really long duration high intensity heat wave. Some of the hottest weather we've seen and it's in the peak," said Jay Breidenbach, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service. "That balloon will go so high that you could see the curvature of the earth."

"It takes about 90 minutes to reach 120,000 feet above Boise, the balloon will pop and then parachute back down and then provide valuable information about the temperature structure," Breidenbach continued. "A lot of this data will go into our computer models. Not only will it give us a picture of what the atmosphere looks like above Boise, but by combining it with all these other balloons, we get a whole picture of what this enormous heat dome looks like."

The National Weather Service is looking for how hot it is way up in the atmosphere.

"We're expecting it to be pretty hot," Breidenbach said. "Normally the atmosphere cools down the higher you go, so if it's hot above Boise, it'll be even hotter in Boise and potentially close to all time record highs this week."

Weather services around the world launch balloons at the same time to track things like the heat dome we're experiencing and hopefully future balloons will be keeping track of a much cooler trend.