Public Information Statement
Issued by NWS National HQ

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NOUS41 KWBC 141720
PNSWSH

Public Information Statement 24-44
National Weather Service Headquarters Silver Spring MD
120 PM EDT Fri June 14 2024

TO:   Subscribers:
   -NOAA Weather Wire Service
   -Emergency Managers Weather Information Network
   -NOAAPort
   Other NWS Partners and Employees

FROM:   Mike Hopkins, NOAA
   Director, Surface and Upper Air Division
   Office of Observations

SUBJECT:   Suspension of Radiosonde Observations at Tallahassee,
Florida,
   Effective July 1, 2024

Effective July 1, 2024, and until further notice, the National
Weather
Service (NWS) is indefinitely suspending radiosonde observations at
Tallahassee, Florida, due to a global supply chain disruption of
Helium,
and the prohibitive cost of the Helium gas contracts.  The
Tallahassee
station has NWS Upper Air identifier KTAE and World
Meteorological
Organization (WMO) Upper Air site number, 72214. The NWS
launches
radiosondes from 100 Upper Air sites throughout the United States and
the
Caribbean, using Helium at 12 of these sites.  Hydrogen is the
preferred
gas because it is cost-effective and a more reliable gas option.  The
agency plans to convert many sites to Hydrogen as soon as practical
and as
funding becomes available.  However, safety concerns prevent Hydrogen
from
being used as an option at the current Tallahassee Upper Air
facility.

In the near term, the affected site will benefit from data collected
by
radiosonde observations from neighboring Upper Air sites, polar and
geostationary satellite soundings, and from instruments on aircraft
flying
into nearby airports.  National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration and
United States Air Force aircraft also provide special soundings
during
tropical storms.

Radiosondes are instruments attached to weather balloons that send
back a
wide range of upper atmospheric data to support weather forecasts,
including temperature, dew point, relative humidity, barometric
pressure,
wind speed, and wind direction.  Radiosondes are one of many
technologies
that collect earth observation data for weather modeling and
forecasting.
Data is also collected from instruments aboard commercial aircraft,
surface observing stations, satellites, radars, and buoys.

The Helium gas shortage affects approximately 12% of all NWS Upper
Air
Sites.The NWS will take all steps possible to mitigate additional
supply
chain and contracting issues and continue converting sites to
Hydrogen
where locations, leases, and safe operations allow and as funding
becomes
available.

If you or your organization have any questions about these changes,
please
contact:

Susan Buchanan
Director of Public Affairs
National Weather Service
Phone: 202-834-5235
Email: susan.buchanan@noaa.gov

National Service Change Notices are online at:

https://www.weather.gov/notification/