A good pilot is always learning, hence this collection of weather images that show interesting weather elements. Over the years I've been collecting and saving wx shots when it turned interesting.
It helps to make the link between "that image" and the "real live weather" when confronted with weather info before a flight. Making the "go/no-go decision" is an important phase prior to any flight.
Assessing the weather is a fundamental responsibility that comes with the pilot's license. Taking the decision "I cancel this flight" isn't always the easiest one, but mostly the wisest.
The famous "Synoptic surface charts" assist in putting numbers on the weather, as well showing frontal activity, strong winds and a basic outlook. It is very wise to check what's coming your way.
Is that Low bringing humid instable air from over the sea, or is a nicer High changing the whole picture? Penetrating a cold front is definitely not what one wants to try with a light aircraft. An approaching front, even small, can create gusty conditions that exceed the demonstrated crosswind limitations of your machine. The same applies for the visibility with the associated precipitation.
Monochrome satellite image
Secondly, the good old basic "monochrome satellite image" is very useful. It shows the location of clouds, Lows, fronts relative to the map. Also, even with only black and white colours, a first impression of the clouds can be made. The more white the cloud, the higher its altitude. TS's are clearly visible and mostly well defined when not embedded. They scream: avoid.
Online wx radar images help to have an idea of what the wx is producing. Is it just light rain or are some huge cells present producing heavy showers?
Blitzradars assist in this matter as well as they indicate TS activity.
A very useful satellite photo regarding this matter is the ”Multi-Sensor Precipitation Estimate” of EUMETSAT. The MPE helps to look for areas with intensive rain, often convective precipitation.
Useful websites are http://www.meteox.com
On these, 'the red stuff' is certainly to avoid. Knowing the dominant wind aloft certainly helps to circumnavigate these more safely and planning a better route.
During winter, the colored "Snow RGB" of EUMETSAT is worth consulting. It helps in the detection of fog and low clouds and especially: snow during day-time. This is not obvious on the standard monochrome photos. Due to the channels used the absorption of snow and ice particles show results in the red spectrum. Clouds with ice particles appear orange (small particles) to red (large particles). When snow crystals are present on the ground its shows full red. Fog and low clouds appear rather white.
Nice IR pictures exist showing fog and low clouds very clearly. These are very handy, especially at night.
Anything that helps to improve your situational awareness is a plus. Websites used by outdoor sportsmen, sailors or kitesurfers are among them. Surface winds for locations that don't have METARs are quickly checked on http://www.windfinder.com
Uncontrolled aerodromes rarely show weather information. On flat land, interpolating between METARS of surrounding aerodromes can prevent stupid moves.
- Opinions provided here are my own. All material provided within this page is for informational and educational purposes only. In no way is any of the content on this website to be construed as instruction.
- I do not have any financial interests in any of the products or companies mentioned.