This site offers a comprehensive presentation for reviewing virtually any current or forecast weather condition that could affect anyone flying in the United States—and many areas overseas as well. Because it amounts to one-stop shopping, the AWC site is a favorite of all operational meteorologists—not just those responsible for aviation reports and forecasts.
But get ready for a change. The AWC site is being revamped, restyled, and given a new look and user interface. Want a preview? Then go to beta.aviationweather.gov.
Bear in mind that work is still in progress, so what you see on the beta website is experimental, incomplete, subject to change, and the final product may not be operational for some time. It all depends on NWS internal dynamics and debates— as well as input from users. If you want to give some feedback, click on the left arrow at the top left of the beta website to send the NWS a message.
To me, the experimental website shows promise in some ways. For example, where the current AWC site requires you to expand a window to get a bigger view of a weather map of certain weather conditions, the homepage of the experimental version gives you a larger view, with areas of concern highlighted. Click anywhere on the map and a full-screen view opens to show most of the principal observations—station models, convective sigmets, turbulence, icing, satellite/radar views, pireps, and the rest—right from the get-go. So, there are fewer clicks to drill down on a smaller geographical region’s weather. If you want to isolate certain weather conditions, click on the “weather” drop-down menu at the top of the page, and the page will declutter to show only the weather you’ve chosen.
What’s more, the beta version has a time slider to give the weather’s trends over an 18-hour period. If you’re looking for the Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA) tool, it’s at the top right of the homepage, and gives you an 18-hour forecast. Flight path overlays, weather variables, and altitudes are selected by using vertical menus of icons on the beta version. Plus, there’s a time slider at the bottom edge of the GFA page.
It’s difficult to provide a complete evaluation of a work in progress, but I think we’ll all agree that the new AWC site is roomier and easier to read than the current version, which has a picture-in-picture feel, with many buttons to call up various weather features. The beta site makes more use of drop-down menus and big graphics. At the same time, it incorporates click-on-map interfaces that are always intuitive. My current gripes center on configuring the GFA presentation and making multiple weather features appear together.
As always, it will take time for us to learn the new ways of navigating the next AWC website. Concerned? Remember to take that survey and make your voice heard.