Community Environment

Last week on Science Behind the Forecast, we learned about how weather can affect Thunder Over Louisville. We’re sticking with the Kentucky Derby Festival theme this week and learning how weather could affect The Great Balloon Race.

WAVE 3 Meteorologist Tawana Andrew said the Kentucky Derby Festival has very specific criteria for the balloons to get off the ground.

“The wind, if it’s greater than 12 mph, they are going to postpone the launch. They’ll also postpone the launch if visibility is less than 3 miles or there is fog in the area or if rain is in the area,” Andrew said. “They’ll also postpone the launch if clouds are below 1,500 feet.”

And wind isn’t necessarily the most important weather factor once the balloon is in the air. Andrew said rain can make it very challenging to fly a hot air balloon. 

“The temperature of a balloon can reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Andrew. “So there’s hot air inside of this balloon, and you have rain falling on top of it. It’s cooling it down and the hot air inside which basically is pushing the balloon back down towards the ground so the balloon is losing its lift.”

Listen below to the latest episode of Science Behind the Forecast to hear more about the ideal weather conditions for this weekend’s The Great Balloon Race.

Bill Burton is the Morning Edition host for WFPL News.