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Weather Products

This briefing should develop the student’s knowledge of — and ability to use — weather products to increase flight safety and situational awareness.

Elements

Practical weather for student pilots, including local and forecast, or for instrument pilots, including IFR weather theory and visual products.

  • Weather theory
    • effects on aircraft
    • how to plan around weather
  • Weather products
    • METAR
    • TAF
    • area forecast
    • visual products
  • Sources and briefings

Resources

  • laptop or iPad
    • weather graphics from ADDS for KPAE
    • ForeFlight flight plan, KPAE-KOLM
  • printed weather from DUATS for planned flight
  • AC 00-6 Aviation Weather
  • AC 00-45 Aviation Weather Services
  • AIM

Instructor actions

Using a planned flight, teach basic VFR weather products and methods for obtaining them. In a guided discussion, evaluate the student’s ability to read and decode weather reports and apply them to a proposed scenario.

Student actions

Come with a basic flight plan prepared, as well as complete the reading assignment. The student should be able to participate fully in applying weather products to the planned scenario.

Completion Standards

The student should be able to properly decode weather products with minimal instructor guidance, and apply them appropriately to a go/no-go decision for a hypothetical flight.

Teaching outline

Graphical products

  • Surface Analysis chart
    • depicts: an overview of conditions, as well as fronts and pressure systems
      • isobars show areas of constant pressure
      • graphical metar format depicts all weather conditions
      • squall lines, troughs, and ridges are displayed
    • used for: broad overview of regional weather
    • updated: every 3 hours
    • valid: at the time published
  • Weather Depiction chart
    • depicts: graphical metars and widespread conditions
      • graphical metar format depicts all weather conditions
      • outlines and shaded areas show MVFR and IFR conditions
      • fronts, squall lines, troughs, and ridges displayed, but no pressure systems
    • used for: broad overview of regional weather
    • updated: every 3 hours
    • valid: at the time data was plotted
  • Radar Summary chart
    • depicts: automated radar weather reports (SDs) in a visual format
      • rain and snow (R and S), including showers (W), thunderstorms (T) and echoes, movement, severe thunderstorm watch areas (WS###) and tornado warnings (WT###)
      • precipitation intensity indicated by contours – light to moderate, heavy to very heavy, and intense to extreme
      • echo tops provide information about the highest detected precipitation and are approximations only.
    • used for: severe weather awareness and storm movement information
    • updated: hourly +35
    • valid: at the time published
  • Constant Pressure Analysis charts
    • depicts: pressure data generated by radiosonde packages
    • used for: enroute planning and information
    • updated: twice daily
    • valid: 00Z, 12Z
  • Composite Moisture Stability charts
    • depicts: stability, precipitable water, freezing levels, and average humidity
      • stability panel shows K index (low = dry) and lifted index (low = unstable)
      • precipitable water panel shows water in hundredths of an inch, compared to the average for that station over a month
      • freezing level panel provides information about freezing levels at each station, including multiple levels and temperature inversions
      • average humidity panel shows level of saturation – • indicates 50% or more, o indicates under 50%
    • used for: thunderstorm probability and cloud cover
    • updated: twice daily
    • valid: 00Z, 12Z
  • Winds and Temperatures Aloft chart
    • depicts: like it says on the tin, wind speeds and temperatures at a given altitude
    • used for: enroute planning
    • updated: twice daily
    • valid: 00Z, 12Z
  • Significant Weather Prognostic charts
    • depicts: forecast weather at specified times
      • turbulence, rain and snow (including showers), drizzle, thunderstorms, freezing rain, tropical storms, and hurricanes
      • areas of precipitation are enclosed in solid lines and can indicate two types
      • surface fronts are depicted using standard formats
      • jet streams are shown on higher panels
      • sandstorms and duststorms, if forecast, are included
    • used for: preflight planning
    • updated:
    • valid:
  • Convective Outlook chart
    • depicts: areas forecast to have thunderstorms
    • used for:
    • updated: twice daily
    • valid: 12Z-12Z

Sources

  • official weather briefings
    • why do we want an official source?
    • Flight Service Stations
    • DUATS and DUAT
    • Jeppesen FliteStar, when dialing DUATS or DUAT
    • Fltplan.com – login required, but free and official
  • other sources with graphical weather
  • XM WX and other inflight products