MEDFORD, Ore. — Medford’s National Weather Service office is getting new technology and it will continue to allow them to gather the most accurate information.
The first weather balloon launch with the new device is set for Wednesday and on Monday, meteorologists prepared for the change in equipment. This week, the Medford location is one of 24 offices in the U.S. that will begin using the most up to date radiosonde, a device that sends back information from weather balloons.
At the same moment, twice a day, every day around the world, weather balloons are launched to gather data from more than 100,000 feet above ground. National Weather Service meteorologist Brian Niewenhuis explains how the device that sends back the information a radiosonde is getting an upgrade at the Medford office.
“the new and improved is that they’re more compact, more accurate and, in today’s budget standards, cheaper to produce and cheaper to launch,” said Nieuwenhuis.
Technology has advanced over the years and a time line of four generations of radiosonds shows just how compact they have become.
“This sond began around 1980, it looks a little worse for age. The next one came out in the 90’s and this one is just about as bad,” Nieuwenhuis said.
Not every locations is receiving the new radiosonde. Nieuwenhuis says it is a result of months of hard work and commitment to accurate data.
“We have been chosen to do so because of our very high rank,” said Nieuwenhuis. “We’re ranked top in the nation for our sounding reliability and data quality scores.”
Nieuwenhuis says the new device will help lead to more accurate forecasts which will benefit the rest of the country.
“It’s also nice to have out here because with the new sonds, we’re expecting more quality data than we had been getting which is very useful to the entire nation because as the storms enter from the west coast, they pass over us before they get to anybody else,” said Nieuwenhuis.
The radiosonds will continue to be launched twice a day and end up where ever the wind takes it. The weather balloons often land in the Klamath Falls and Bonanza area and have a envelope attached to be mailed back if ever found. If never found the new radiosond is said to be much more environmentally friendly due to smaller battery size and lack of Styrofoam.