We have used optical Rayleigh and Thomson scattering to investigate the expansion dynamics of laser induced plasma in atmospheric helium and to map its electron parameters both in time and space. The plasma is created using 9 ns duration, 140 mJ pulses from a Nd:YAG laser operating at 1064 nm, focused with a 10 cm focal length lens, and probed with 7 ns, 80 mJ, and 532 nm Nd:YAG laser pulses. Between 0.4 μs and 22.5 μs after breakdown, the electron density decreases from 3.3 × 1017 cm−3 to 9 × 1013 cm−3, while the temperature drops from 3.2 eV to 0.1 eV. Spatially resolved Thomson scattering data recorded up to 17.5 μs reveal that during this time the laser induced plasma expands at a rate given by R ∼ t0.4 consistent with a non-radiative spherical blast wave. This data also indicate the development of a toroidal structure in the lateral profile of both electron temperature and density. Rayleigh scattering data show that the gas density decreases in the center of the expanding plasma with a central scattering peak reemerging after about 12 μs. We have utilized a zero dimensional kinetic global model to identify the dominant particle species versus delay time and this indicates that metastable helium and the He2 + molecular ion play an important role.