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National Weather Service launches weather balloon ahead of storms

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VALLEY, Ne (FOX42KPTM) - Even before the first raindrop fell Friday, the clouds looked menacing.

"Strong storm systems."

From severe thunderstorm warnings to tornado watches, meteorologist Brian Barjenbruch has seen this kind of weather before. It's like an unstable version of Mother Nature.

"That's what's happening on days like today."

Earlier Friday, the National Weather Service in Valley launched a weather balloon after posting a tweet about it to track conditions. Those balloons are designed to gather information. Electronic boxes attached are capable of measuring pressure, temperature and humidity. The data recorded is sent back to tracking equipment on the ground every one to two seconds. It helps them keep an eye on what's coming within minutes and what might be on the horizon.

"We really just want to emphasize safety."

Once weather balloons are released up into the air they can go more than 100,000 feet. That's high enough up to see the curve of the Earth and it helps meteorologists collect data.

"We get a lot of change in this part of the country."

Meteorologists say that's what makes the balloons so valuable. Change can even happen suddenly.

"We do have a cold front coming."

That will push temperatures down the next several hours Friday into Saturday.

If you happen to find a National Weather Service balloon, staffers encourage you to not keep it or throw it away. They want it back. We're told those can be recycled and reused.

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