Balloon Crosses Kansas, Missouri, Reaching the Arch

Midwest residents track flight with binoculars, telescopes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2023 5:35 PM CST
Kansas, Missouri Track Balloon as It Crosses Midwest
A balloon floats over Columbia, Mo., on Friday.   (Anna Griffin/Missourian via AP)

A spy balloon launched by China floated east from Montana on Friday, spotted by residents in Kansas and Missouri—and reached the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. Local members of Congress said the federal government had confirmed the sightings were of a spy balloon. Residents in Kansas; the Kansas City area; and Columbia, Missouri, followed the balloon's path with binoculars and telescopes. In Kansas City, the National Weather Service posted photos and said it's not a weather balloon. Missouri Gov. Mike Parson complained on Twitter that he wasn't kept informed by the Biden administration, KMOV reports, and Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Eric Schmitt tweeted that the balloon should be shot down.

There might be more than one balloon, viewers pointed out. When cameras in St. Louis photographed the balloon as it neared on Friday, it could still be seen from WDAF's tower in Overland Park, Kansas, the station noted. The balloon is floating at an altitude of 60,000 feet, meaning it could "theoretically be visible on the horizon from up to 200 miles away," meteorologist Jacob Lanier said. There's no indication so far that the balloon went over Whiteman Air Force Base in central Missouri, per KMBC. A forecast model shows the balloon, once it leaves St. Louis, heading toward Evansville, Indiana, then into Kentucky and Tennessee, Lanier said. That would put it out of the range of the Missouri Air National Guard, which a state senator urged Parson to call in to bring down the balloon, per KSDK. (More US-China relations stories.)

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