Palatine: Fire Department Responds to Unusual Call

Firefighters encountered an object that landed by parachute on a Palatine homeowner's backyard deck. On it, it said it could be flammable and to call the fire department if found.


Palatine firefighters responded to a call Tuesday morning in the 100 block of Greenwood Avenue from a homeowner who found an unidentified object on her backyard deck.

The object had an ominous warning on it.

The woman called 911 around 9:45 a.m. Feb. 19, and told dispatchers she found a parachute, and an object with a note attached stating, "the balloon may contain flammable gas so contact your fire department if found," said Bill Gabrenya, deputy fire chief. 

Gabrenya said firefighters were on the scene by 9:49 a.m., and when they got closer to the balloon, noticed smaller wording stating it was a NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) weather instrument

The fire department took all the debris, which included a parachute, a broken balloon and the device and will ship it all back to the National Weather Service, as is instructed on the device.

Firefighters were later able to determine it was a Radiosonde Lockheed Martin Mark 2A weather instrument, which was sent from the NWS in Davenport, Iowa on Monday at 5 a.m.

The time it landed in the Palatine backyard cannot be exactly determined, because the homeowner had just arrived back into town on Tuesday.

What is known is that a typical weather balloon can stay in tact after landing on a surface for roughly 2.5 hours

Radiosonde weather instruments have been sent out by the NOAA National Weather Service since the 1930s to measure temperature, pressure, relative humidity and other weather calculations.

According to the NWS, only 20 percent of the devices are recovered

Bob February 21, 2013 at 02:12 PM
What's on the back side of the tag? Due to the critical helium shortage, many research balloons are now using hydrogen instead.


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