Howard Lake-Waverly Herald, Jan. 8, 2001

He went for a buck, got a weather balloon

By Lynda Jensen

Ernie Johnson went deer hunting near Rochester in December, but instead of bringing home a buck, he got something else a little more interesting.

Johnson found a weather balloon from the National Weather Service.

The device, complete with an orange parachute, was found deflated in a tree.

Its official name is called a "radiosonde," Joan Johnson, Ernie's wife said.

The balloon can be used to gauge humidity, wind speed, barometric pressure, and temperature. It can reach heights up to 17 miles above the earth, according to information printed on its side.

The Johnsons sent the balloon to Kansas City, per the instructions on its casing.

There is a date stamped on its side as well, July 27, 2000. What this means is a mystery, Ernie said.

Several students at Humphrey Elementary got to see the balloon in class right before Christmas, since Joan is a teacher there.

All of the fifth graders got to see the balloon since they were studying weather, as well as one fourth grade and one sixth grade class.

"They were really in awe of the scientific equipment," Joan said.

Many students wondered why the information on the balloon was "so old," she said.

They expected the weather to be tracked daily on a balloon instead of being set free over several months.

She explained to them that weather is tracked over long periods of time, such as seasons and years, instead of over days.

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