Second annual COD weather balloon launch was a success

Lucas Koprowski, News Editor

This past Saturday, April 16, marked the second annual weather balloon launch here at the College of DuPage. This was performed by the meteorology department here at COD, and hosted a full crowd of people for the launch and a presentation on how tornadoes that have affected the northern Illinois region over the past century.

The most talked about tornado event was last year’s Fairdale-Rochelle EF-4 tornado near DeKalb. Northern Illinois University professor Al Mariano presented video of the tornado going into Fairdale, Ill. that was taken inside of the attic of a destroyed house of the town. Mariano told the crowd that if the tornado were two miles south, it would have possibly went through two trailer parks. As well, if the tornado were shifted 10 miles north it could have collided with a nuclear power plant.

Gensini, Servatka and other meteorology staff conducted the balloon inflation inside the Homeland Security Center by filling it with Helium gas. Once inflated, the balloon was taken to the adjacent parking lot, so that the balloon wouldn’t fly into the building they inflated it in, and released it with a computerized box attached to the bottom. The box had GPS capabilities and a transmitter, so that it would relay the information of where it was located and atmospheric conditions to a computer being monitored by Gensini.

The balloon popped around 68,000 ft, which is about twice the height of where commercial aircraft fly. The balloon’s location is currently unknown, but it is believed to be within a five mile radius of Glen Ellyn. According to the National Weather Service, only about 20 percent of weather balloons are recovered.