BOISE -- Day 2 of the annual "Spirit of Boise" Balloon Classic offered balloon pilots their first real chance at taking flight from Ann Morrison Park.
The five-day event officially began on Wednesday when about 15 balloons gathered at the park hoping to kick-off the event with Boise Mayor Dave Bieter and the Metro Area Chamber of Commerce. However, a cold front and strong down-drafts initially grounded the balloonists and their crews.
Thursday was a different story.
A total of 19 hot-air balloons took flight around 7:30 a.m., with their pilots benefiting from some unusual atmospheric conditions.
That's because what's known as "box winds" moving in opposite directions at different elevations allowed the colorful craft to drift west, then return east.
According to KTVB Meteorologist Larry Gebert, the "box winds" were partially caused by an inversion that increased air temperatures by about 5 degrees at about 1,000 feet.
For some balloonists, the box winds meant perfect conditions for flight.
Several pilots were able to use Thursday's conditions to drift back east from their westward journey out of Ann Morrison Park. These balloonists then landed at Ann Morrison Park where they started.
Others managed to land in various other places through Boise, including in one notable example where a balloon landed on the road shoulder near Federal Way.
Event organizers expect more than 22 balloons to launch on Friday.
Saturday's events include the Governor's Cup competition, and the popular "Nite Glow." For more information, see KTVB's 2012 Spirit of Boise Event Guide.