Wx Watch

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Wx Watch: Ice Surprises

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2006

We all do the best we can when it comes to preparing for winter flying weather, right? We check with flight service, check Internet sources of weather information, and double-check any mention of icing airmets or sigmets. (Forecasts or reports of "run of the mill" clear, rime, or mixed icing conditions will generate an airmet.

Wx Watch: A Fright-Free Fall

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2006

Weather educators are forever scaring us with doomsday scenarios, and at times I've been one of them. But let's keep things in perspective.

Wx Watch: ASOS Basics

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2006

Since its introduction in the 1980s, automated weather observing stations have become standard equipment at many airports around the world. These include the federally funded ASOS (automated surface observation system) and the federal- and/or state-funded AWOS (automated weather observation system) instrument suites.

Wx Watch: FROPA Basics

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2006

You're standing on the ramp, about to climb into your airplane and take off. You notice that the wind has picked up, and your airport's latest AWOS (automated weather observation system) broadcast says that the altimeter setting has just dropped a bit.

Wx Watch: The Trouble With Zero

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2005

From the earliest days of ground school we've all learned about the temperature ranges associated with icing conditions. Clear icing — that slick, tenacious, transparent coating associated with cumulus clouds — happens most often in the zero-to-minus-10-degree-Celsius range.

Wx Watch: Ice Fighters

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2005

Pilots fortunate enough to have ice-protection systems can become blasé about icing encounters. Brother, is that a mistake! The subject of ice-protection equipment, its capabilities, and correct use is a complicated one — and one that's often neglected in conventional training materials.

Wx Watch: ADDS Upgrades

Pilot Magazine | Oct 01, 2005

Faithful readers of "Wx Watch" will recall that I've referred to the Aviation Weather Center's (AWC) Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) Web site many times in the past. ADDS provides many valuable briefing products, and the AWC is constantly improving the site to make it more valuable and cutting edge.

Wx Watch: Bermuda Blocking

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2005

Let me tell you about one of the biggest large-scale summer weather systems that can affect the entire eastern half of the United States. It can cause huge thunderstorm complexes, make density altitudes soar to dangerous levels, and drop visibilities to instrument meteorological conditions values in haze.

Wx Watch: Radar Revolution

Pilot Magazine | Aug 01, 2005

Datalink weather information has revolutionized the way many of us think about weather and deal with in-flight weather decisions. With datalink information such as METARs and TAFs can be called up for studied review — there's no struggling with trying to write as fast as a flight-watch briefer speaks (though flight watch is still the official source for late-breaking weather updates and the sole source of such information for the thousands of us who aren't lucky enough to have datalink service).

Wx Watch: Squall-Line Lowdown

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2005

It's challenging enough to cope with "garden variety" thunderstorms, what with all the extra preflight weather research and in-flight monitoring that safe flying demands in the convective season. To all that, factor in other brands of convective activity that require as much, or more, vigilance (see "Safety Pilot Landmark Accidents: Midlevel Mayhem," page 66).

Wx Watch: The Eyes Have It

Pilot Magazine | May 01, 2005

Now that thunderstorm season is upon us, it's time to recall the prime directive for guaranteed storm-cell avoidance. It's a very important rule, and one that should be kept firmly in every general aviation pilot's mind, whether he or she is a neophyte or a grizzled high-timer with a logbook bulging with actual instrument time.

Wx Watch: Windwise

Pilot Magazine | Apr 01, 2005

I once did a study of general aviation weather accidents for the AOPA Air Safety Foundation. It had many goals, but one objective was determining which weather phenomenon caused the most accidents.

Wx Watch: Trough Talk

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2005

Troughs are given short shrift in aviation weather courses, but they are major weathermakers. Not so much the troughs occurring at the surface (which are shown by dashed lines, colored brown on colorized surface analysis charts), but those aloft.

Wx Watch: Winter Warm Fronts

Pilot Magazine | Feb 01, 2005

Your preflight briefing mentions that a warm front is due to arrive along your planned route of flight. Oh joy, you may think, anticipating balmy temperatures, ice-free skies, and a smooth ride beneath a high overcast that conveniently eliminates that bothersome sun glare.

Wx Watch: Escaping the Frozen Zone

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2005

Two must-see icing Web sites --> Let's say the worst has happened: You're picking up ice. In spite of following a careful preflight weather briefing checklist, in spite of checking all those TAFs, pireps, airmets, and everything pertinent on the many aviation weather Web sites, and despite all these sources indicating an ice-free trip, a layer of ice is beginning to adhere to your airplane.

Wx Watch: Icing on the Web

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2004

How times change. A mere 15 years ago, flight service was the gospel of aviation weather.

Wx Watch: Fall Surprise

Pilot Magazine | Sep 01, 2004

September is a great time of year to review the basics of fog formation. Fall, in many parts of the United States, is often called "fog season" by meteorologists.

Wx Watch: History of a High

Pilot Magazine | Jul 01, 2004

All pilots love high pressure. Highs give us the sunny skies, unlimited visibilities, and light surface winds that free us of weather worries and let us have our fun.

Wx Watch: Non-Frontal Passage

Pilot Magazine | Jun 01, 2004

Anyone reading AOPA Pilot in the past few months must have surely noticed that this year's AOPA sweepstakes airplane is a 1965 Piper Twin Comanche. As the project's point man it's up to me to fly the "Win-A-Twin," as we call it, from one shop to the next for its refurbishment.

Wx Watch: Storm Season Insights

Article | May 01, 2004

We've all been there. You're at the airport or standing in your yard and you notice the dark, low-lying clouds rushing by on strong southerly winds.

Wx Watch: Skirting Sparks

Article | Apr 01, 2004

Despite the preponderance of datalink weather sources today, lightning detection gear still plays a critical role in weather avoidance. In fact, lightning detection equipment is probably the single most important and affordable piece of weather-avoidance gear you can buy.

Wx Watch: The Frontal Model

Pilot Magazine | Mar 01, 2004

When it comes to understanding weather basics, it's always helpful to have a mental picture of the most important meteorological dynamics. One of the most helpful images to cultivate is the typical surface low-pressure complex.

Wx Watch: Airmet-Wise

Pilot Magazine | Jan 01, 2004

Now that we're deep in winter's throes, we've all heard the standard-issue warnings about in-flight icing from flight service or our favorite Internet weather briefing sites. While airmets are mostly well founded, day after day of icing airmets is bound to make some of us doubt we'll ever be able to fly ice-free, or at least not until, say, May or June.

Wx Watch: The Wright Weather

Pilot Magazine | Dec 01, 2003

"Success four flights Thursday morning all against twenty one mile wind started from Level with engine power alone average speed through air thirty-one miles longest 57 second inform press home Christmas Orville Wright." This famous century-old telegram from the Wright brothers to their father in Dayton may have been the world's first informal METAR. Right up front, where it ranks in importance, Orville emphasizes the wind's role in the historic first flights.

Wx Watch: Iced-Up Tails

Pilot Magazine | Nov 01, 2003

Twelve years ago, the FAA held the first of three conferences to discuss a sparsely documented icing hazard: tailplane icing. In this context, the term tailplane refers to either a conventional horizontal stabilizer-with-elevator arrangement, or an all-moving stabilator.