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Weather Wise: Precipitation and Icing

Cold temperatures, low clouds, precipitation, and icing present unique challenges for GA pilots. Brush up on precipitation and icing weather theory and associated hazards.

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Rules to Live ByRules to Live By

Safety SPOTLIGHT: Precipitation and Icing

parked aircraft surrounded by snow

Keep These Points in Mind:

  • Precipitation can quickly change from VMC into IMC
  • Any amount of structural icing is hazardous
  • Safe flights begin on the ground: Conduct thorough preflight planning that includes at least two backup plans
  • Ensure the aircraft is completely free of frost, snow, and ice before departure
  • Get out of icing conditions immediately, as soon as you suspect or see ice forming on the aircraft
  • Depending on the cloud type, icing can be worse in the top of the clouds, so only climb if you absolutely know you can climb over the top. Otherwise you’re losing power as you climb into the worst of the icing conditions
  • Give and use PIREPs to improve weather decision-making

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