The attaches a radiosonde to weather balloons to record temperature, relative humidity and pressure. One of these landed in downtown Atlanta Thursday and prompted a suspicious package investigation.
Photo: National Weather Service
Photo: National Weather Service

UPDATE: National Weather Service balloon prompts suspicious package investigation, shuts streets near Capitol

Twice a day, the National Weather Service releases balloons to record temperatures, humidity levels, wind speeds and other data.

Thursday, the balloon landed near the Georgia Capitol, prompted a suspicious package investigation and shut down streets during the lunch hour.

“We release weather balloons twice daily - once in the morning and once in the evening,” the Weather Service said in a tweet. “This one just happened to land downtown due to light upper level winds!”

In the six years chief meteorologist Keith Stellman has been with the Weather Service in Peachtree City, no balloons had landed in downtown Atlanta until Thursday.

“Probabilities (of something like this happening) are pretty slim,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

However, Stellman said there was an incident less than two years ago when a balloon came near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. A Delta Air Lines pilot called the control tower to report the wayward balloon. The Weather Service was contacted, but it was not clear if the response reached Thursday’s level.

Washington Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive were blocked for about an hour Thursday afternoon while Atlanta police and fire crews investigated the matter.

Obviously, investigators determined the balloon was harmless.

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