NWS Topeka's New Balloon Product

The National Weather Service in Topeka has begun issuing a new product to help the decision making process for Balloon pilots.

The product can be found linked off of the "Other Items of Interest" page found on the left hand menu of the main NWS Topeka page.

Here is direct link to the product:  Balloon Pilot Forecast

Here is an explanation of the product:


Balloon Pilot Forecast Product Defined

The Balloon Pilot Forecast has been created as a planning tool for balloonists and all aviation enthusiasts.  It should be used as a planning tool only, and not as a replacement for a formal pilot weather briefing.  If you need a formal pilot weather briefing, please call 1-800-WXBRIEF.

 The Balloon Pilot Forecast will be issued within the same hour as scheduled TAF’s (Terminal Aerodrome Forecast), and will not be updated for amendments.  Please, consult your servicing Flight Service Station or the internet for the latest changes in the aviation forecast.

 The Balloon Pilot Forecast contains the following information:

Discussion – This is a brief explanation of what the aviation meteorologist anticipates what significant aviation impacts will occur primarily within the next 6 hours and out to 24 hours. 

Sunrise/Sunset – The expected sunrise and sunset time for Shawnee County that day or the next morning in CST or CDT.

Surface Forecast Wind – The expected surface wind speed and direction and the local time it is expected to occur. 

NWS Doppler Winds – The wind speed and direction displayed in Above Ground Level (AGL) heights as sampled and derived from the WSR-88D Doppler weather radar located near Alma, KS. 

TOP SND WindsThe wind speed and direction displayed in AGL heights derived from the radiosonde launched at Billard Airport in Topeka, KS.  The radiosonde winds will only be updated with the 00 Zulu (Greenwich Mean Time) and 12 Zulu radiosonde launch. 

RUC FCST WindsThe forecasted wind speed and direction displayed in AGL heights of the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) model for three consecutive hours beyond the time of when the Balloon Pilot Forecast product was issued.

Density Altitude – AMS defines density altitude as the pressure altitude corrected for temperature deviations from the standard atmosphere.  Density altitude bears the same relation to pressure altitude as true altitude does to indicated altitude.

Return to News Archive

USA.gov is the U.S. government's official web portal to all federal, state and local government web resources and services.