Forecast has balloon race officials saying rain, rain go away

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, October 17, 2018


NATCHEZ — The Great Mississippi River Balloon Race, which is Friday morning through Sunday afternoon, is likely to have some disruption by inclement weather conditions, local weather experts said Tuesday.

Meteorologist Ernie Ethridge said flights are possible Friday morning and Sunday.

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However, light rain caused by the remnants of Hurricane Sergio off the Pacific coast and a Canadian funnel system closing in from the north may put a damper on Friday night’s and Saturday’s balloon activities.

“It’s likely that we’ll have rain late Friday through Saturday morning,” he said. “Saturday night into Sunday, the rain should diminish. … The balloon glow will be in jeopardy, but we should be back in business by Sunday.”

Babs Price, interim director of the balloon race, said the combined festivities promise a good year despite weather threats.

“There are going to be some balloons in the air Thursday, Friday and Sunday,” Price said. “Saturday, we’re still going to have the festival grounds open with live music entertainment.”

Price said there is a list of things that can draw people’s attention away from the clouds.

“We’ll have the Blufftober Fest beer garden, arts and crafts, a Sports Bar tent set up, food vendors … and of course the carnival for the kids and adults who enjoy the rides. … There are plenty of fun things to do. … Just bring your umbrella to keep the rain off.”

Ethridge said temperatures should be warmer today and continuously grow somewhat cooler as the weekend progresses, with highs in the mid-60s and lows in the 50s. Though no thunderstorms are in the forecast that would prevent the balloon festival from happening, Ethridge said moisture would prevent some flying activity. It’s still unclear how intense the rains this weekend will be, Ethridge said.

“There’s a chance that they’ll be able to fly Friday morning,” he said. “It’ll be difficult to get in a flight Saturday morning … but we can still be on the lookout. … There’s no doubt this weather pattern will be disruptive.”

Wind has also been a “nemesis” to balloonists for the past couple of years, Ethridge said. Rain, however, appears to be the biggest threat this year.