As the summer heat builds watch for those afternoon towering cumulus to erupt into airmass thunderstorms...What is an airmass thunderstorm you ask? Maybe you need to take this Thunderstorm Course to check your knowledge...
Today there is a vast array of weather information tools available online. These resources enable the pilot to have a very good understanding of the weather and tools to make even the most savvy weather briefer envious!
Here are the steps I use to get an idea of the weather:
7) Another interesting source is The Weather Underground. This dubious sounding place has great weather info and outstanding radar images with access to NEXRAD products such as echo tops and radial velocity.
8) Get a DUATS or DUAT account. These sites allow access to a full weather brief with aircraft profiles and trip planning.
9) Call your local Flight Service Station, 800-WX-BRIEF, to speak to a real-live human being. If you've followed some of the links above, chances are you may know more about the weather than the briefer. Be aware that the briefer you get may not have a lot of knowledge about your local area. That is the price we will pay for closing local FSS stations. However, the briefer will have been in touch with pilots and can pass along pireps about actual conditions. That can be real handy especially in the winter months with icing forecasts vs. actual conditions. I now use www.fltplan.com to file my flight plans since Lockheed Martin has had so many problems losing plans. At the conclusion of your flight, be sure to close your flight plan and be a responsible pilot and give a PIREP!!
Finally, use common sense. Always check these online products for the correct date and time, they could be very old. Go outside and look up!! Is there fog forming? Do you see clouds that are building? Do you see any signs of rising air? Dust devils and soaring birds way up, along with a forecast of thunderstorms may make one want to stay on the ground!!
Do the conditions you see with your own eyes agree with the forecast? Remember, forecasts are based on computer models with some human input and can be wrong!!! If you see a few instances where forecasts don't agree with what's really out there, it's probably time to exercise some caution.
Be careful up there and respect that weather!!!!!!!!