Too Windy Up High (+0 Miles)
December 10, 2006: Migration Day 67

The wind was only blowing 2 mph on the ground this morning but 10 mph up high, so the cranes and planes did not fly. As the pilots have observed many times this fall, it's typical for the wind to be stronger at higher altitudes."Winds can be very light near the earth's surface, yet be blowing as much as 150 mph in the 'jet stream' directly above," says Meteorologist Wendell Bechtold.

How do scientists know? Weather balloons are one way to measure wind speed and direction. The balloons are launched twice each day at airports and weather stations around the world. As they float up into the atmosphere, the balloons collect data at different altitudes. They can go as high as 100,000 feet high before they burst.

Weather balloons are launched twice each day to measure wind speed and direction.

In the Classroom

  • How fast is the wind blowing over your head? Check out this site for Hot Air Balloon Pilots. It shows wind speed on the ground and at 3,000, 6,000, 9,000 and 12,000 feet. Where is the wind the strongest? Draw a profile of the atmosphere overhead.
  • How high does a weather balloon fly? If a weather balloon can go over 100,000 feet high before it bursts, how many miles can it go?
  • Watch a weather balloon: See a weather balloon bursting and weather balloon watched with a telescope at the National Weather Service in Peachtree City, Georgia. How quickly do the weather ballons rise?

Journey North is pleased to feature this educational adventure presented in cooperation with the Whooping Crane Eastern Partnership (WCEP). Copyright 2006 Journey North. All Rights Reserved.
Please send all questions, comments, and suggestions to our feedback form.