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help me understand weather

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#199 of 201
Nov 17, 2003
[font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]I am looking at weather information, looking ahead to a longish XC I am planning for Saturday, from KGVL to [/font][font=Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]KBKL. We'll leave GVL in the morning to get to BKL for lunch, then return to GVL in the afternoon.[/font]
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We've been having typical August weather here (Georgia): hot, lots of moisture, enough instability to produce scattered CB in the afternoons, nice evenings.

Some days the tstorms are right on top of us, other days it really nice with big towering storms off in the distance..that may or may not move in later. In other words, some days have been flyable, with big gaps between the storms, others the tstorms have just been too many/too close together.

Now, on the prog charts, they're showing this low pressure/cold front

moving toward Cleveleand on Saturday. It stretches right across my route of flight.

After all the study for my written and oral and everything, I understand that this will/should produce thunderstorms in a band along that line, right? With clouds stretching out behind the frontal line. The faster moving it is, the more clouds nad more severe the storms.

Any of you seasoned weather pilots care to take a look at the progs and help me interpret them? I'm trying to learn here...as well as avoid launching on a trip that's going to put me in a big mess of storms after being in the plane for 3 hours. Tired, low-ish on fuel and having to fly an approach at an unfamiliar airport in crappy weather...as a newly minted instrument pilot. That sounds like a really bad way to get my ticket wet.

Then again, maybe that front isn't that severe and there'll just be isolated CB (like we've had here for a month) along the frontal line, and it's easy to get through and into Cleveland.

Like I said, I'd love to hear more from some of you guys that have a lot of experience with this stuff. It'll give the prog charts good context if I'm able to talk to a briefer and look at radar on Saturday and see what was forecast vs. what is actually out there...whether I go or don't go, I'll learn something.
There are a couple of books that I highly recommend to all new instrument pilots...

Weather Flying by Buck and Instrument Flying by Taylor.

I made these two books mandatory reading for all of my instrument students after they have passed their checkride. They aren't the typical ground school textbooks; in fact, they contain little, if any, weather or instrument flying theory. Weather Flying discusses how to fly weather in the real world and Instrument Flying discusses how to fly the various instrument procedures in the real world. They are easy and enjoyable reads.

Most people, after getting their instrument rating, still have little or no idea how to safely use it. It can be pretty intimidating getting the first real IFR experience. Reading these books will go a very long way towards converting all of that theoretical knowledge that you learned in ground school and flight training to practical use. I've always felt that it would take several hundred hours of actual IFR experience to gain the practical knowledge and insight that these authors have put in these books.

You will never ever ever understand weather. Just so long as you're able to fake it well enough thru writtens and orals, you'll be in good shape. It was sunny outside today, but kinda humid. That's all I know. WHY? I have no idea. :)

I did manage to get my azz kicked in an embedded T-Storm in a C-172 as a newly minted instrument pilot. I don't reccomend that. :eek: Not sure how close you are to an actual FSS, but the FSS guys can be an invaluable resource to helping you understand weather theory, especially as it applies to your regional area.
Good luck, it really can be a tough nut to crack.

Hello Gainesville,
Yes the weather here can get a little scary in the afternoon. I instruct just west of Atlanta. My advice with all the convective activity we have had and the unstable lapse rate, go in the morning before the activity gets started for that long x-c. Solar radiation the sun is the main cause of all weather. Beat the warm up and you will have a smooth ride as a VFR pilot (in most circumstances). Please PM if I can provide any assistance. You asked a great question.
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Just to add to the great advice that has already been given, a couple points:

1. Always know the "big picture," i.e. the "why" of a particular wx phenomenon. Examples: TS--are they airmass or frontal? Squall line? What will happen to them as the front passes? Why is the wind blowing in this direction? What is causing this weather? What can we expect in a couple hours? Why?

2. Weather doesn't always follow the rules that the books say it should. Weather doesn't always do what the TAFs say it should. Weather is extremely complex and dynamic, and influenced by factors that we as mere mortals are not able to take into account.


P.S. Weather Flying is a great book, I highly recommend it.

Solar radiation

Uneven heating

Low pressure areas

Rising air

High pressure neutralizes low pressure

High to low

Coriolis force right in northern hemp.

Local topography (lakes, mountains, terrain)

Different air masses


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