Meteorologists watch over Yuma Proving Ground
YUMA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - With the official calendar start of the monsoon, the Valley isn't the only one keeping an eye on the weather.
A storm could be a minor inconvenience for us, but in Yuma where the U.S. military tests new weapons it could be a matter of national security.
It doesn't look like much from the outside but what happens in this old building at the Yuma Proving Grounds helps keep people safe.
"Wind speed is the most crucial here for testing here. So when they fire whatever weapon it is they need to know how the wind is going to affect that projectile," said Nick McColl.
The Yuma Proving Grounds is a location in the state where thousands of missiles and mortar rounds are fired every year. It covers more than 1,300 square miles north of Yuma. That's a size more than double the size of Phoenix.
"For what we provide safety is critical, that is why we're here. To make sure that we do testing safely at YPG," said McColl.
The weather data comes from balloons that the meteorologists launch multiple times a day. The measuring device is tied to the balloon which costs more than $200 each.
"Once this sucker hits the ground it basically will just disintegrate," said McColl.
The balloon shoots up about 10 miles, and it continuously sends back data to the weather computers on the ground.
"Once the flight is complete when we have reached our target altitude which is going to be about 15km above the surface we will go ahead and transit to the programs that we are supporting. We also will go ahead and transmit to the National Weather Service, and they send it off to basically the world," said McColl.
All this takes place from the tiny non-descript building inside one of the largest military installations in the world.