El Niño weather continues to delay NASA’s super pressure balloon launch

NASA will not attempt a balloon launch tomorrow, Sunday, 15 May (all times in New Zealand time), due to unacceptable forecast launch weather conditions.

Officials will continue to evaluate the weather conditions for an optimal launch window. A status update for Monday, 16 May, will be given by 2 pm Sunday (15 May).

“The data continues to show a very unusual weather period for this area both on the surface and in the stratosphere,” said Robert Mullenax, meteorologist for NASA’s Super Pressure Balloon team.

Wanaka typically offers a very high probability for weather conditions conducive for launching NASA’s scientific balloons. Still, it is not uncommon for any of NASA’s worldwide launch sites to hit a patch of bad weather that results in postponed launch attempts. “The issue for this campaign…for this year…is more focused around the impacts of the El Niño weather pattern, which is also impacting weather globally,” said Mullenax. “The weather issues we are seeing this year are largely attributable to El Niño.”

NASA will continue to evaluate weather conditions at least through May 31 for conditions conducive for conducting launch operations.