Mountain weather planning - question for you Rockies pilots

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by kaiser, Feb 16, 2023.

  1. kaiser

    kaiser Pattern Altitude

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    The pilot formerly known as Cool Beard Guy
    I'm planning a trip Chicago to Denver and back. I'd like to return Monday (or even Sunday PM) and now Windy is telling me winds aloft in the front range @ 14k between 40-70kts out of the northwest. Is Windy pretty accurate out there? It's decent in our area. And just a gut check - that's going to be a hell of a ride for the first x00 miles eastbound, right? Should I just end up taxiing down I-76 for a ways?
     
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  2. Timbeck2

    Timbeck2 Final Approach

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    The good news is that you’ll never fly over a mountain to get to Denver. The bad news is that it always seems to be windy because of the mountains you’ll never fly over.
     
  3. Hang 4

    Hang 4 Pattern Altitude

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    Windy fan here. Are you using the ECMF model? I find the gust factor to be much higher than actual most of the time. Did you toggle to some of the other models to cross check?
     
  4. NoHeat

    NoHeat En-Route

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    Love the Windy app, including it’s ability toswitch models.
    The European forecast is nastiest Monday, 60 knots from the west at 10,000’. If that happens you might get terrible rotors as the wind comes over the Rockies. Once, flying from Iowa toward the CO Front Range, I stopped in NE, checked the WX, and saw pirepsfor extreme turbulence - it was a rotor situation. I turned around and went home.

    Other models don’t look as bad for Monday.
     
  5. aftCG

    aftCG Line Up and Wait

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    Windy is surprisingly accurate even several days in advance
     
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  6. texasclouds

    texasclouds En-Route

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    Mountain wave it, big daddy! West over 50 kts is frfr, no cap
     
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  7. Racerx

    Racerx En-Route

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    Find the closest peak and hit up the awos to compare?

    Signed- Fellow flatlander
     
  8. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Mountain AWOS is local and can be very helpful. But by the time they get to Denver, 5000 to 7000 feet lower, they can be translated to some pretty hefty surface winds, strong winds aloft, and mountain wave, There are no peaks on the Denver to Chicago route. Denver, to Chicago is an 800nm flat ramp with a small downhill grade.

    @Timbeck2, loved your comment. Perfect!
     
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  9. MajorTurbulence

    MajorTurbulence Line Up and Wait

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    Flatlander question: besides the characteristic appearance of rotors and waves because of the presence of moisture, and in a situation where high near-perpendicular winds to a mountain range increases the suspicion of these downwind, how often could these phenomena be invisible to the naked eye?
     
  10. midlifeflyer

    midlifeflyer Touchdown! Greaser!

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    That's hard to say. I'm sure some would consider those downdrafts resulting from high perpendicular winds "invisible" rather than visualizing something like the photo below. Remember that much of the Rocky Mountain west is in an arid and semi-arid climate where clouds are the exception rather than the rule. Plenty of places where, absent interpretation of forecasts and current reports, you're relying on the results (can you see those trees swaying? - if there happen to be any) rather than seeing the phenomenon itself.

    You really can't discount experience. I remember flights where wind coming over a pass gave us an (expected) updraft rather than a downdraft.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. kaiser

    kaiser Pattern Altitude

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    Thanks all! I scrubbed the flight, so now I'll watch to see what really happens on Sunday/Monday. I'm flying commercial next week to ensure success of the mission.

    As a sailor, I've always ranked the European model the lowest. NAM and GFS for me! I did flip through them all however.

    Tactically I do this and look at the FAA Webcams when I cross mountains, but I've never done a trip where I wanted to forecast out several days, in the winter, when the jet stream is so far south.
     
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  12. mandm

    mandm Cleared for Takeoff PoA Supporter

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    Looks like a lot of headwind, probably need to fly lower and adjust as needed. Break up the planning into different segments to get more accurate winds. Lower altitudes should not be as windy. Usually at night winds calm down too but of course the added risks present themselves too. I doubt you would experience a mountain wave but something to read up on to be aware of it.