For 37 years, the Annual Balloon Reunion and Earth-Shaking Camp-Out (ABRESCO) has taken place on the eastern edge of San Luis Obispo County, California an area famous for the being a very prominent part of the San Andreas Fault (the largest and most active earthquake fault in the U.S.) As many as 20 balloons each year turn out at this spectacular event, lifting off into the air from the campsite in the Carrizo Plain.
An important part of the ABRESCO event is knowing what the weather is doing. WeatherSnoop is crucial in assisting planners for timely weather information, as well as keeping participants abreast of conditions.
ABRESCO's Brian P. Lawler uses WeatherSnoop to post reports to Weather Undergound and utilizes graphs to insert into reports on the event. According to Brian, "I make charts with data from Weather Underground. I copy and paste the lines reported by wunderground.com
"Once I have the data, I paste it into Tex-Edit Plus, a shareware word processor that features excellent GREP and AppleScript capability. I run my AppleScript which creates the line for wind speed and time. Then I scale it and place it on a graph template for the newsletter that goes to all the pilots daily in the weeks before the event.
From this data, and live weather reports, we can make decisions about safe ballooning based on wind speed, direction and gusts."
For hot air balloon enthusiasts, weather data is key to safe and efficient setup and operation. "Hot-air balloons are safest in very light winds, typically less than 6 MPH. If it's much windier than 3 MPH, it's difficult to inflate and launch a balloon. That's why we pay so much attention to the weather in the days before our annual event."
The weather station, an Oregon Scientific WMR-200, was intalled by Chief Meterologist, Cartographer and Staff Photographer, Noel F. Turn. The weather station is connected to an iMac at the Carrisa Plains School in eastern San Luis Obispo County.
A two-room school with grades K-6, Carrisa Plains School is immediately adjacent to the camp site, and in the heart of the Carrizo Plain, an area of vast beauty in San Luis Obispo County. About 30 students total attend the rural school, which is part of the Atascadero Unified School District, 60 miles west.
Also in the same valley is the Carrizo Plain National Monument, about five miles south, which occupies hundreds of thousands of acres of open land, soda lakes, and an amazing population of endangered species. The National Monument covers about 250,000 acres.