ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Despite a dicey wind forecast, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta officials say the Saturday evening Twinkle Twinkle Glow and fireworks show will go on as planned.
Fiesta officials made the call shortly after 5:30 p.m. after meeting with pilots.
A National Weather Service advisory forecasts winds topping 30 mph with gusts to 55 mph in parts of metro Albuquerque overnight. An advisory takes effect at 7 p.m. although the weather service said the air mass moving in from the east might not arrive until closer to 9 p.m.
Stiff winds are expected to continue overnight but may let up by 6 a.m., which would be just in time for Sunday morning's mass ascension.
Strong winds aloft canceled the fiesta's first big event, the mass ascension planned for Saturday morning.
During nighttime Glow events, pilots keep their balloons tethered to the ground but produced a colorful spectacle by igniting their gas jets illuminating the envelops from within.
Earlier coverage Saturday:
It wasn't the surface winds so much as the stiff stream higher up that led the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta to cancel Saturday morning's mass ascension.
And with the forecast still iffy, officials of the America's Challenge gas balloon race later announce they were postponing by 24 hours their launch that as was scheduled for Saturday evening.
Race officials said they need calm conditions for launch and were concerned wind projections might lead racers to night landings near the East Coast. Instead a Sunday launch will likely carry balloons into the Midwest.
With Saturday morning's early cancelation the fiesta opened the gates and parking for free as thousands of fans mingled with balloon teams on the launch field and visited vendors and food booths.
Fiesta officials were expected to me late in the afternoon to decide if Saturday evening events --the Twinkle Twinkle Glow show and the AfterGlow fireworks--will go on as scheduled.
KRQE News 13 has been told that even if the glow is canceled, the fireworks will still happen.
The National Weather Service has issued a wind advisory effective from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. on Sunday that includes metro Albuquerque and the lower Rio Grande Valley. East winds of 30-40 mph with occasional 55-mph gusts are forecast primarily below east-west canyons and mountain gaps.
The timing of the winds is somewhat uncertain with the onset in Albuquerque possibly not occurring until closer to 9 p.m.
Saturday morning was marred by a collision involving an SUV and an Albuquerque Police Department motorcycle officer patrolling the Interstate 25 frontage road outside Balloon Fiesta Park. Sgt. Todd Mock was reported to be in stable condition at a hospital with what were initially reported as hip and leg injuries.
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