National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce

Winter Storm, Flooding and Critical Fire Weather Concerns Today

A winter storm will affect portions of New England through tonight with several inches of snow in the forecast. Meanwhile, the Pacific Northwest will see more heavy rainfall from a series of storms that may bring more flooding and potential landslides. For the western High Plains and southern California, strong winds and dry conditions will keep fire weather threats critical. Read More >


The long-awaited replacement of our Weather Balloon equipment took place on the week of May 15-19, 2006. Some of the old equipment was vintage World War II. The dish in the upper air dome would track the signal coming from the weather balloon. The computer would convert the azimuth and elevation of the dish into wind direction and speed. The weather balloon instrument would transmit pressure, temperature, and relative humidity. The new RRS employs GPS technology. Rather than calculating the winds from the dish orientation, the weather balloon instrument has a GPS receiver, and transmits it latitude/longitude coordinates, from which the winds are computed. Thus, wind information from the new RRS is more accurate than the old system. Additionally, more data is made available for viewing.

Disposing of the old Upper Air equipment

Workers taking out the old ground receiving equipment.

Crane lifting the new Upper Air equipment

Using a crane, the new dish pedestal is lifted to the upper air dome.

First Balloon Launch

First official release of the new weather balloon at 4am PDT, 22 May 2006. The man on the left has just released the balloon. A glow stick tied beneath the balloon is used for early morning launches to help us get an initial sighting once the balloon is in the air. Below the glow stick is the orange parachute, which will eventually open when the balloon bursts.

The man on the right is holding the instrument package (small white box), and is waiting for the balloon to ascend and pull the instrument package up. This package contains sensors for temperature, pressure, humidity, and GPS.