Weather forecast favorable for this weekend's Jubilee
By Paul Huggins
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What's bad news for local farmers is good news for the 30th annual Alabama Jubilee Hot Air Balloon Festival this weekend at Point Mallard.
The same dry weather we've had all month should remain intact through next week, said Kris White, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Huntsville.
Pryor Field Regional Airport in Decatur has reported 0.16 inches of rain in May.
"The thunderstorm potential is minimal," he said, explaining the large surface to upper level high-pressure system remains situated over the eastern and southeastern United States, forcing any new moisture systems to go around it.
If the forecast holds true, Saturday's first flight, the Hound and Hare Race, should lift off from the Jubilee Field at 6:30 a.m. with temperatures in the low 60s. The rest of the day calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures reaching 90 at midday and then cooling slightly for the afternoon fun flight at 6 p.m. and the Balloon Glow at 8.
Sunday's forecast calls for fewer clouds and slightly warmer temps. The Lynn Layton Key Grab will take flight at 6:30 a.m. with balloons landing at the Jubilee Field instead of launching from it. A fun flight is scheduled for 6 p.m. with a fireworks show at 9 concluding the event.
If weather grounds one of the flights, Jubilee officials will consider using Monday morning for a makeup flight as it did last year for the key grab.
Clear skies are great, said Ken Garner, Jubilee balloonmeister, but he warned wind can be just as big a deterrent to flying as rain.
"We try to limit the balloons to take off with eight to 10 mph maximum on the surface," he said. "It can also depend on the direction of the wind. If the wind is blowing straight up or down the river we don't fly."
That would put pilots at risk of getting stranded over a wide expanse of Wheeler Lake, Garner said.
More good news from the weather service. The forecast is for winds out of the south-southeast, which would push balloons across the river toward Pryor Field and parts of Limestone County, covered in open farmland.
White said the winds should remain less than 10 mph, even in the afternoon, for both days of flying
"It looks like great weather for ballooning," he said.
If the weather proves as perfect, it will be only the fourth time in the last 16 years that all four of Jubilee's planned fights occurred on schedule. There were two other times when the fourth flight went up on Monday's makeup day.
Last year, three of the four flights occurred, as well as the Balloon Glow.
Only once in the past 16 years has the weather canceled all flights.
Alabama Jubilee schedule
6 a.m. — Pilot briefing.
6:30 a.m. — Hound and Hare Race; Jubilee Field.
7 a.m. to 7 p.m. — Decatur Art Guild’s arts and craft show; Point Mallard Pavilion (old ice rink).
1 to 2 p.m. — Music by Chaos and Disorder.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m. — Music by 8 Mile Creek.
4 to 5 p.m. — Music by Lanier.
5 to 5:30 p.m. — Pilot briefing.
5:30 to 6:30 p.m. — Music by Next Exit.
6 to 8 p.m. — Fun flight and tethered balloons; Jubilee Field.
7 to 8 p.m. — Music by Standard Candle.
8 to 9 p.m. — Balloon Glow.
9 to 10 p.m. — Entertainment by Decatur Baptist Church Kidstuf Live.
Southland Flywheelers Antique Tractors Show; near T.C. Almon Recreation Center.
9 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. — Two-cylinder 100-horsepower Continental engine demonstrations.
10 a.m. — Parade of power.
10:30 a.m. — Tractor games.
2:30 p.m. — Club benefit auction.
3 p.m. — Drawing for 6-by-12-foot utility trailer.
6 a.m. —Pilot briefing.
6:30 a.m. —Lynn Layton Key Grab Race; Jubilee Field.
8 a.m. to 6 p.m. — Decatur Art Guild’s arts and craft show; Point Mallard Pavilion (old ice rink).
10 a.m. to noon — Music by Green T.
11 a.m. to noon — Madison Tae-Kwan-Do.
1:30 to 2:30 p.m. — Music by Judge and Jury.
3 to 4 p.m. — Music by Chelsea Hale.
4:15 to 5 p.m. — Military Appreciation Event .
5 to 6 p.m. — Pilot briefing.
6 p.m. — Fun flight and tethered balloons.
6:30 to 7:30 p.m. — Music by Jeff Whitlow.
8 to 9 p.m. — Music by Natchez Trace.
9 p.m. — Fireworks.
9:30 to 10:30 p.m. — Music by Natchez Trace.
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