New weather balloons aim for better hurricane data
Sep 26 2008 6:55PM
MIAMI (AP) Researchers are testing a fleet of special balloons that may help hurricane forecasters better predict the path of storms as soon as next hurricane season.
Two of the clear, pyramid-shaped balloons were test-launched today in Miami. They are several feet tall and carry a palm-sized package of electronics and a transmitter that's a little bit longer than a pencil.
The researchers hope to send up hundreds of balloons as a research flotilla next year to send back data when a storm threatens in the Atlantic. The balloons would probe the outer winds that steer a hurricane and determine its course.
Currently, scientists have a limited amount of data about atmospheric conditions over the ocean. They says the balloons could fill a data gap that could dramatically improve the three, four and five-day predictions of the path of a storm.
The balloons cost $2,000 apiece, and researchers hope to get the price down into the hundreds.
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