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Posts tagged: balloon

Balloons launch into smoky skies over Boise

The brightly colored hot-air balloons rising over Boise this morning are still a pretty sight, but the view is marred this year by the wildfire smoke that's been plaguing our air all month. The Idaho DEQ predicts air quality in the “moderate,” or yellow category for the Treasure Valley today, with an air quality index of 80 due to PM 2.5 pollution - that's tiny particles in the air from smoke. The DEQ is predicting “smoke impacts” from new wildfires in southeastern Oregon, along with smoke from the Trinity Ridge fire in Idaho and from California fires all to impact the area's air quality today.

“Moderate” air quality is defined as an AQI of 50 to 100; 101 to 150 is orange, or unhealthy for sensitive groups; and 151 to 200 is a red alert, or unhealthy air for everyone. So far this month, the Treasure Valley has had one red alert, six orange, and more than a dozen yellow.

I can't remember a year with worse air here. Mike Toole of the Idaho DEQ said he can verify that this year is the worst in the past decade. The only ones that came close were about a week of intense wildfire smoke in 2007, and a seven- to 10-day winter inversion with poor air quality in 2002. “This one we're dealing with now started on Aug. 5,” Toole said, “So we're going on four weeks with this, and we're just not seeing a lot of evidence that we're going to break out of this smoke cycle any time soon.”

Annual balloon rally to fill Boise skies with color

It's that time of year again, when the Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic draws dozens of brightly colored hot-air balloons to Boise for mass morning launches at Ann Morrison Park. Nearly 40 balloons are expected to participate by this weekend. This morning, about 18-20 balloonists gathered in the park and inflated their balloons, but unfavorable wind conditions - with winds gusting 20 mph at 1,000 feet and reported at 30 mph early on in Ontario - stopped the launch. “We didn't fly today,” said Kevin Godwin of Peak Broadcasting. “We just didn't want to take the chance.” Still, the balloons inflated, and several gave tethered rides to about 50 feet up. (This photo is from last year's event.)

With a small cold front moving through today, better weather is expected tomorrow and through the weekend, with “nice crisp mornings, and that's what we like to fly in,” Godwin said. Tomorrow through Sunday, the balloons are scheduled to launch around 7 a.m. Specialty balloons that will participate include the Mickey Mouse “Happiest Balloon on Earth” from Disneyland, and the POW/MIA Freedom Flight Balloon from St. Cloud, Minn.

The public is invited to see the big balloons close-up in the park at their morning launches; food and coffee vendors will be there too, and activities will include military fly-overs and balloon flight competitions. On Saturday night, there'll be a free concert and “Nite Glow” event from 6-9:30; that's when the inflated balloons, on the ground, light up in a colorful display. For more information, go to www.spiritofboise.com.
  

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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