'UFO' spares New York

Usually it isn't easy to get the attention of jaded New Yorkers, but evidently a cluster of balloons did just that yesterday.

As a New York Post headline today proclaimed, "Sky mystery leaves thousands agape."

Swirling lights appeared in the bright blue sky over Chelsea, and they lighted up the phone lines at the Federal Aviation Administration and the New York Police Department. Callers wondered if they had seen a UFO, and the Post article noted that several Twitter users said they had seen people "vaporized."

What people saw was harmless and had a lot to do with the weather, said Henry Margusity, a meteorologist with Accu-Weather Inc.

The objects were balloons, and posters on the Web site ghosttheory.com noted that balloons had been released from Times Square. Margusity said that soundings showed almost no wind at the 5,000-foot level above New York. Thus some of the balloons were able to come to rest for awhile in the calm over New York that belied the anxiety below.

Given the lack of winds, the balloons would have appeared to be almost stationary, turning leisurely to allow the sunlight to dance off their surfaces.

No abductions, vaporizations or Elvis sightings were reported. ...