Looking Back at Apollo 11’s Launch Weather, and the Continuing Impact on our Forecasts

Unless you’ve been living under a moon rock, you probably know that today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the mission that would eventually put human beings on the moon.

So what was the weather like that day? Not too different from today’s weather in Central Florida, interestingly enough. NASA History’s Launch Weather records show these conditions at time of launch (8:32 AM ET), compared to 8AM observations at Cape Canaveral this morning:

Temperature85 degrees81 degrees
Barometric Pressure30.12 inches30.11 inches
Relative Humidity73%43%
SkyMostly ClearSunny
Wind7.3 MPHCalm

The very existence of the launch complex at Cape Canaveral still impacts Central Florida weather forecasting to this day. Due to the critical weather data needs related to launches, our area now benefits from one of the most densely-monitored climates in the country. In the area around the spaceport alone, this network includes weather towers at multiple levels (up to 492 feet high), electric field mills, cloud-to-ground and inter/intracloud lightning detection systems, doppler radar wind profilers, and rain gauges… plus upper air soundings, human surface observations, and other weather related data.

Credit: NASA

This data compiled by the Spaceflight Meteorology Group, along with reconnaissance from the Air Force 45th Weather Squadron of course serves an important role on launch days, but we still benefit from it every day.

The National Weather Service’s Melbourne office, which covers the Orlando area, uses this data and other sensor networks nearby to produce hyper-local mesoscale analysis to better inform their forecasting decisions for our area. You can see the results on NWS MLB’s ADAS Real Time Mesoscale Analysis page.


Image Credit: NASA

2 comments on “Looking Back at Apollo 11’s Launch Weather, and the Continuing Impact on our Forecasts

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