Wresting a forecast from chaos

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Wresting a forecast from chaos

In Grand Junction, science guides Weather Service’s myriad predictions

Wresting a forecast from chaos

Twice a day, the National Weather Service in Grand Junction launches helium balloons to an altitude of around 20,000 feet to gather data for forecasts, says Becky Klenk, a hydrometeorologist. The information harvested by the balloons is then fed into computer models.
Jim Pringle, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Grand Junction, said the Doppler radar atop Grand Mesa covers an area of 52,000 square miles. Because of Durango’s distance from the radar, the radar only picks up weather several miles above the city, Pringle said. “It’s just simply a range limitation,” he said.
Jim Pringle, left, the warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service, and forecasters Paul Frisbie, center, and Ellen Heffernan use computer modeling to make thousands of forecasts a day.
Becky Klenk, a hydrometeorologist with the warning and forecast office in Grand Junction, said the office releases a weather balloon twice a day in conjunction with weather offices all over the world, to measure temperature, relative humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed, and wind direction. Klenk holds the instrument package that is launched twice daily.
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