It’s almost that magical time again in the Land of Enchantment where green chile aroma fills the air, the morning has a certain crispness to it and hot air balloons sprinkle the western sky. Yup, Albuquerque’s International Balloon Fiesta will be here before we know it. The Balloon Fiesta also usually signifies the official end of warm temperatures in New Mexico. When the balloons go up the temperature drops and it’s a good time to get your furnace ready for winter.
Chances are you may have also planned an outing with the family to this annual event in the past, only to find that the balloons were grounded due to wind or rain. Lucky for you, we’ve done the research for you on the best days to attend the Balloon Fiesta for Fall 2017. With a little help from the Farmer’s Almanac and weather forecasters, we’re here to help you predict what days will be optimal for attending the Balloon Fiesta.
What does the Farmer’s Almanac Say?
The Old Farmer’s Almanac uses a mixture of climatology (study of weather patterns), solar science (study of sunspots and other solar activity), and meteorology (the study of the atmosphere) to help them make weather predictions that are about 80% accurate.
For the week of October 7-15th, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts thunderstorms earlier in the week and then will finish out sunny and cool. We compared what AccuWeather said Albuquerque’s weather would be like for this week, too. (Remember these are all predictions and subject to change, so make sure to check the weather forecast closer to the event as well.)
Here are our suggested “best days” to attend 2017’s International Balloon Fiesta:
Best Mass Ascension Day: Saturday, October 14th AM
Best Day for the Balloon Glow: Friday, October 13th PM
Best Day for Fireworks Show: Friday, October 13th PM
What are the weather conditions that will keep the balloons grounded?
Wind is the most critical factor when it comes to safe ballooning and is the primary reason why events during balloon fiesta are canceled. When you’re looking at the forecast, look for words like gusty, breezy or windy. The balloons are initially filled with cold air using a fan and if winds pick up above 10 mph, it can make it almost impossible to fill the balloon. Also, even if it may not seem windy on the ground, there may be winds aloft in the atmosphere that balloonists need to take into account as well prior to take off.
Balloonists need to be able to see 1-3 miles in order to legally fly. So if there is fog or something else that will impede visibility, the balloons will not fly.
Rain & Storms
Balloons might be one of the most sensitive aircraft and any type of storm can endanger the riders and pilots. It’s important to not just look at the sky as a reference of the weather but to look at the future forecast as well. While this might seem like an obvious decision, this one can actually be a little trickier to navigate. Even if the weather seems clear in balloon fiesta park, balloonists need to know what the weather will be a few hours down the road in order to avoid any storms that might roll in mid-flight.
Hot air balloons fly by changing the temperature inside the balloon with heat. So the cooler it is outside, the less heat it takes to fly and conversely, the hotter it is outside, the more heat the balloon will need to fly. So if the outside temperature is too hot, then it’s more difficult to get the temperature inside the balloon hot enough to fly. Don’t worry, though, it’s not likely that the temperatures will be too warm for the balloons to fly.
How do you know if the balloons have the green light to fly?
The Balloon Fiesta has a high-flying flag that will help clear up any questions you might have about whether the balloons will take off. There is a 40-foot flagpole located behind the main stage near center field. There will be a green, yellow or red flag raised on the pole indicating the status of the event.
Green = All scheduled events are a go
Yellow = The event is on hold (usually due to weather)
Red = All flying events scheduled for that session are canceled