The call Thursday to 911 sounded ominous.

There was a rope hanging near the Omaha caller's front door, with some type of object in a nearby tree.

Was it a threat delivered outside the home, northwest of 78th and Jackson Streets?

No, it was one of the 70 or so weather balloons that are launched twice each day around the country, including from the National Weather Service office in Valley.

The hydrogen-filled balloons, measuring 5 feet in diameter, sometimes get as high as 100,000 feet before bursting, said Cathy Zapotocny, a meteorologist with the Valley office. Data collected at 25,000 feet tends to be the most important, she said.

A parachute brings down the balloon's remains and transmitter that had been sending data — temperatures, wind speeds and humidity and dewpoint readings. The transmitter is attached to a 90-foot-long rope.

The balloon, tether and GPS transmitter cost from $200 to $300, Zapotocny said.

Anyone finding a downed balloon system is urged to take it to a post office, which will return it to a weather service office.

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Welcome to the discussion.

Please keep it clean, turn off CAPS LOCK and don't threaten anyone. Be truthful, nice and proactive. And share with us - we love to hear eyewitness accounts.

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