Here is a more detailed look at the intrepid wanderings of our long-distance balloon, Ibis-74 (we've been naming different versions of our balloon envelope design after birds, and this was the 74th of our “Ibis" model). As I-74 left New Zealand, weather data quickly showed that it was tracking a storm across the Pacific. This seemed like an excellent chance to learn firsthand what impact a major weather system would have on our flight — so we just sat back and watched.

This was an enormous system: a series of storms 2400 kilometers wide, which is about half the size of the continental US. Even though I-74 was flying twice as high as the clouds and rain and lightning, we learned that the winds of a huge storm can still reach high up into the stratosphere and dramatically affect its path.  The balloon spent two whole days orbiting a large vortex, spiraling in and out several times, criss-crossing its own path, traveling only a short distance each day, and probably feeling fairly seasick (airsick?). Finally, on June 22, the wind pushed Ibis-74 out of the vortex and on toward Chile.  Next time, we’ll probably take a less scenic route. 
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