Via Talking Points Memo, a rational explanation:
After a lot of heated speculation and a bunch of scrambled jet fighters over Canada and the far North of the United States we’re finally getting a credible explanation of the Chinese balloon saga. According to a new report from The Washington Post the United States is now examining the possibility that the People’s Liberation Army simply lost control of the balloon intended to surveil Guam. The US was monitoring the balloon since it went aloft from Hainan Island along China’s south coast. It was tracking along a path to Guam but then seemed to veer north until reaching Alaska.
Here’s the key passage from the Post …
U.S. monitors watched as the balloon settled into a flight path that would appear to have taken it over the U.S. territory of Guam. But somewhere along that easterly route, the craft took an unexpected northern turn, according to several U.S. officials, who said that analysts are now examining the possibility that China didn’t intend to penetrate the American heartland with their airborne surveillance device.
The balloon floated over Alaska’s Aleutian Islands thousands of miles away from Guam, then drifted over Canada, where it encountered strong winds that appear to have pushed the balloon south into the continental United States, the officials said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe sensitive intelligence. A U.S. fighter jet shot the balloon down off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 4, a week after it crossed over Alaska.