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Officials at Balloon Fiesta Park say that the New Mexico Sunrise balloon has hit a power line near Meadowlark Lane and Sara Way in Rio Rancho.
Two men riding in the the balloon’s gondola suffered burns.
Read the latest: Balloon hits Rio Rancho power line, two men burned
Kathy and Marv Deasey, who left their hotel at 4:30 in the morning for their first visit to Balloon Fiesta, were sitting in portable folding chairs in the middle of the field.
Coming from Southern Ohio, they have seen balloons in the air — but only about four or five at a time. “To see four or five hundred is just amazing,” Kathy Deasey said.
Deasey was using an iPad to snap some memories. “At some point you have to stop taking pictures and just look,” she said.
The couple is heading to Los Angeles for Marv Deasey’s fiftieth high school reunion, and learned about the fiesta as they were researching some things to do on the way.
They were trying to identify some of the special-shaped balloons. “That’s a donkey?” she said, pointing at one, that was in fact a donkey. “I thought it was a clown.”
Dan Pagliaro, lead meteorologist for Balloon Fiesta, said that while weather conditions are excellent for this morning’s events, they are expected to change throughout the day today.
“Late this morning we will start seeing the winds pick up into this afternoon. We’re seeing a major storm system over California. It’s going to swing east over the next couple of days,” he said.
Pagliaro said wind speeds may be unfavorable for balloon events tomorrow. “During the morning tomorrow we are looking at strong southerly winds, looking at the winds increasing out of the south to about 25 miles per hour with gusts of 40 miles per hour, and we’re expecting a cold front to move through Albuquerque around mid-day,” he said.
Officials will decide when they meet later today and tomorrow whether tomorrow’s events will be canceled.
“It’s still a little too early to figure out what Friday will be like,” Pagliaro said.
Balloon’s are taking to the air as Wednesday morning’s Flight of Nations Mass Ascension has lifts off.
Kathy Haworth from Leawood, Kan., broke her ankle in August but didn’t want to miss her and her husband’s first visit to Balloon Fiesta. Still in Cruches, she said, “This is my treat to myself, so I could look forward to something.”
Haworth said that she is getting courtesy shuttle rides to and from the parking lot, but she’s walking around the field on crutches to exercise and stretch her leg.
Haworth and her husband made the drive to Albuquerque from Kansas. “He has to do all the driving, because I don’t have the mobility to push the pedal,” Haworth said.
Haworth said she and her husband are enjoying the fiesta. “It’s spectacular. We’re having a great time,” she said.
Pilots were informed at this morning Balloon Fiesta pilot’s meeting that weather will be excellent for flying this morning, with wind conditions creating a “box.” A “box” is a weather phenomenon in which winds near the ground move in one direction, and in another direction higher up. This allows balloons to stay aloft for a longer period of time.
Officials also said that winds are expected to increase throughout the day.
Dawn Patrol balloons are lifting off from Balloon Fiesta Park.
Balloons taking part in this morning’s Dawn Patrol are starting to inflate on the field.
Winds are expected to increase throughout the day today, but officials at Balloon Fiesta Park are flying the green flag, signaling weather is safe for flying for this morning’s events.
5:45 a.m. – Dawn Patrol
6:30 a.m. – Krispy Kreme Morning Glow
7:00 a.m. — Flight of the Nations mass ascension
No evening events
Images from the 2013 Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta
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