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A surprise from the skies

Eileen JoyceHarold Byer found the remains of a weather balloon on his property Friday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

The weather blew in for a McCourtney Road man – in the form of a weather balloon.

Harold “Babe” Byer found the weather balloon on his property Friday while walking around his five acres.

“All I could see were strings hanging off of this bush,” said Byer, 73, who lives near the McCourtney Road transfer station.



It was almost dark when Byer took his walk and saw the strings. He looked up to see something hanging 20 feet up in a manzanita bush and thought it was kind of strange.

Byer pulled the strings and found the remains of a balloon, a parachute, and a small radio transmitter box.




According to the National Weather Service, the balloons are used to gather upper atmosphere data.

Only about 20 percent of the approximately 75,000 radio transmitter boxes released by the National Weather Service each year are found and returned for reconditioning and reuse. Instructions attached to the boxes indicate that it should be dropped it off at the post office.

When released, the balloons carry a small, expendable instrument package called a radiosonde. During its two-hour flight, the radiosonde can soar up to 115,000 feet in altitude and drift more than 125 miles from its release point. During that flight, it collects and transmits information on pressure, temperature and relative humidity.

When the balloon expands beyond its limits, it bursts and a parachute safely slows its ascent.


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