New Mexico: Weather at the Balloon Fiesta

Because of today’s weather (gray, cloudy, rainy) in Albuquerque, I thought it might be helpful to explain how weather impacts the event sessions at the Balloon Fiesta. Weather is a major factor with any hot air balloon event. The primary concern is safety when making decisions concerning cancellation or postponement.

These are the reasons an event session at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is cancelled or postponed:

  • Morning Mass Ascensions/Scheduled Flying Competition: Winds faster than 10 knots (approximately 11.5 mph), less than 3 miles visibility, clouds below 1,500 feet and rain will postpone or cancel the launch.
  • Evening Balloon Glows/Fireworks: Wind faster than 11.5 mph or rain will cancel or delay static illumination of inflated balloons. Fireworks can still be displayed with wind up to 20 mph.

Delay and Cancellation Process

The Balloon Fiesta makes the first announcements about any delays or event cancellations to the balloon pilots as part of regular Pilot Briefings. The initial briefing is held before each event at the Pilot Briefing Tower on the west side of Balloon Fiesta Park except the briefings for Glowdeos will be in the Pilots’ Pavilion. Information is announced and posted via official Balloon Fiesta text message, Twitter and Facebook accounts. Unless the weather creates a dangerous situation, Balloon Fiesta Park remains open even in the case of a balloon flight cancellation.

Flag Pole Notifications

Because mobile phone and wireless access are hampered with so many people at Balloon Fiesta Park, the Balloon Fiesta created a flagging system to notify attendees about the status of flying events based on the color of the flag. The flag pole located adjacent to the Stage in the center of Main Street will fly one of three flags:

  • GREEN means all flying events are on schedule;
  • YELLOW means flying events are on a delay or a flight decision has not yet been made;
  • RED means flying events are cancelled for this session.

Rain Check Policy

The Balloon Fiesta offers no refunds for unused tickets. However, rain checks are issued if an individual flying session must be cancelled due to weather or other safety considerations, and the tickets can be used for any other flying session at the 2019 Balloon Fiesta. The 2019 Music Fiesta™ is exempt from the Balloon Fiesta rain check policy because Music Fiesta™ is a “rain or shine” event.

We’ll be there, rain or shine. According to the current 10-day forecast, the skies should be sunny, but we all know how weather changes on a dime.  🙂

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