Weather Question

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by kimberlyanne546, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I realize it is not great to confess weakness, but I suck at weather. I just don't really pay that much attention to it (desk job) and up until now I have cancelled a lot of personal VFR flights because I like to fly on extra nice days.

    In addition, I stay within 1 hour or less of my home airport, where I can fly pretty darned low if I have to and avoid the mountains, and often I don't land anywhere else. The two times I have (coastal destinations) the clouds have snuck up on me and I've had to hurrry home. Lessons learned.

    I do not know the patterns of the wind, or clouds, or storms, or how to read a chart (bad I know). These things were never covered by my CFI (not much) and were a "memory" item quickly lost after my written exam - last May.

    I need to make a go vs no-go decision about a 400nm XC this week (200nm each way).

    The problem is I'm leaving on Friday and (ideally) coming back on Monday - so the weather can obviously change a lot during that time.

    What you should know is that I have a passenger, and we have decided to drive OR fly ON FRIDAY ONLY so that we don't miss too many of the activities (about 20 people are going on this vacation / family reunion from his family).

    In other words, if Friday is a "no go" for flying down there, we will just hop in the car. We will probably need to decide by noon.

    I have choices regarding my route, but since we barely got 70kts ground speed last time in the 150, I probably don't want to fly the coast due to the restrictions (at one point I need to be below 1500 feet over the ocean to avoid the Bravo if they don't clear me through it).


    Information:

    Departing O69 (Petaluma), Friday, anytime after 9:00am (school opens at 8:30am)

    Full fuel (don't have the POH with me but I bought a copy). It is a 1975 Cessna 150 with - I think - only 22 gallons useable.

    Destination: San Luis Obispo KSBP (parking for free for 4 days at the Jet Center in exchange for buying 10 gallons of their fuel)

    Goal: non-stop, but can stop if flight takes longer than 3 hours (fuel = time).

    Distance (straight line): 200nm - but I need to get out my plotter to measure exact distance or use Foreflight if I can learn way points.

    There are MOA / RESTRICTED AREAS very close to my destination that need to be avoided, and looking in the general area, using "minimum safe altitudes" from the squares on the sectional, there are some that are as high as 6200 feet.

    It is south, so that means 5,500 or 7,500 (I still need to look at airspace too).
     
  2. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Be patient and become a student of weather. No one gets it right all the time. ;)

    If you have to leave on Friday and be back on Monday you are setting yourself up for "getthereitiss". Be very careful about flying cross country and having a timeline. There are times when I have been stuck for 3 days waiting for weather to clear. :rolleyes:

    One of the best weather site I like to use is:
    http://www.usairnet.com/cgi-bin/launch/code.cgi?Submit=Go&sta=KLNK&state=NE

    Check out SBP...
    http://www.usairnet.com/cgi-bin/launch/code.cgi?Submit=Go&sta=KSBP&state=CA
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  3. RotorAndWing

    RotorAndWing Final Approach

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    Whether what?
     
  4. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Whether to go or not! :rofl:

    Darn automatic android speller thingy!
     
  5. Tom-D

    Tom-D Taxi to Parking

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    What you and I are, are over qualified recreation pilots.

    I fly for fun not work.
     
  6. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Here is the first choice (according to a CFI from Palo Alto giving me free advice):

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Geico266

    Geico266 Touchdown! Greaser!

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  8. John221us

    John221us En-Route

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    Call (800) WXBrief
    That is (800) 992-7433 and ask for a standard VFR briefing. They will tell you everything you need to know. I have it on speed dial on my cell phone. They also update you on the NOTAMs and stuff.
     
  9. poadeleted20

    poadeleted20 Deleted

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    So what's the question?
     
  10. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Those lines represent airports. I would start with 5500 since the Bravo outer ring is 6,000 at the lowest.

    The lines go from:

    1. Petaluma straight line to Livermore (5500 feet)

    Notes: be careful to stay on course, goes near / under a Bravo (perhaps they will clear me through)

    2. Livermore straight line to South County (could do Hollister instead, which was my original "mid way stopping point for gas" and is bigger with two runways)

    Notes: had to go inland to avoid the Class Charlie of San Jose which dips down to 3000 feet at one point

    3. South County straight line to Paso Robles

    Notes: allows me to avoid climbing to 7500 by staying far from the mountains on the left of the course line, allows me to stay clear of MOA and restricted but at the end I'll need to fly out around them using GPS

    4. Paso Robles straight line to San Luis Obispo

    Notes: Looks like there is some terrain which could affect my descent.
     
  11. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller En-Route

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    For a weekend trip like this, WXBrief will tell you nothing about the trip home, unfortunately.

    I use this NWS product that will let you look out throug Monday 3/12 (currently, and it is Tuesday evening as I write this). The accuracy that far out is not great, but it is an indication. What you should do is watch this daily and observe the trends... is the rain event getting earlier in time or later? Is the severity increasing or decreasing? It gives a basis for semi-long range planning.

    http://forecast.weather.gov/MapClic...l&unit=0&dd=0&bw=0&AheadDay.x=31&AheadDay.y=8

    -Skip
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
  12. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Two questions:

    1. Where can I learn about how to read charts (esp. the ones in foreflight). I am most interested in charts that show real time cloud heights since at times I need to be 5500 feet on my route. Otherwise I can go to 3500 at times.

    Clouds real time are also important since my "second route" is just plain and simple fly over the water down the coast.

    2. The "go" vs "no go" question. Should I fly or drive. I would like to decide Thursday night but am willing to wait until Friday. After that, if we fly, the question becomes when do I fly back. I want to stay through Monday, and the passenger (boyfriend) doesn't want me to fly home solo - perhaps he thinks he's "helping" me fly the plane . . . but of course he would like to stay until Monday. I WILL MOST DEFINITELY go home with the plane when I need to. It would suck if that is Sunday, and Saturday seems out of the question since I should have a good idea by Friday.
     
  13. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Like I said, I either fly on Friday or I drive.

    If I fly, I would not like to be late (as in later than Monday), since I'm not sure I have anywhere to stay, I really need to get back to work, and I am paying a dog sitter back home by the night. In addition, I'd be solo if I couldn't go back on Monday since we both need to be back to work on Tuesday. For this reason, I would not "wait" out the weather, I would "beat" the weather by leaving early. I could probably call my boss and stay at a hotel Monday night but that would be pretty bad.

    So the weather as it looks right now tells me I'm gonna drive. I won't go with too many "maybes". If only one day had rain that would be different, but as it is now both Sunday and Monday have chances of rain when a few days ago they did not. A few days ago the storm was set to come in on Tuesday so it looks like it is coming in sooner than they first thought.
     
  14. N801BH

    N801BH Touchdown! Greaser! Gone West

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    Altho the ADDS products are good at giving reliable info I prefer to use the Mark 1 eyeballs and Intellicast, http://www.intellicast.com/Storm/Hurricane/PacificSatellite.aspx?animate=true..... The visable or IR images work the best for my simple, dumb mind... I let the loop play for a few seconds and it is pretty easy to determine current weather and future trends... IMHO...

    Ben
     
  15. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    First off: MOA's are not off-limits. Hunter sez activity will be in NOTAMs. If Hunter is not active, it doesn't exist from a practical point of view. Even if it is NOTAM'd as active, ATC can/will advise if you'll be interfering with training activity. Use flight following.

    You will be looking for at least a two hour weather window. I don't know the weather out there but you'll be looking for time after fog burns off 'til other stuff might move in. Look at temperature/dew point spreads. Learn about skew-T's (okay, that's a graduate course) and use them. Call FS (yeah, I know, but they can be very helpful). Discuss what you're trying to do after you listen to the semi-mandatory weather recitation. An experienced briefer is a lot of help once they have recited the semi-canned speech. Getting specific with questions may help, dunno, but they seem to respond to the best of their ability.
     
  16. Gubbins

    Gubbins Ejection Handle Pulled

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    Does your victim, sorry, passenger enjoy flying? I ask because I once did a long XC trip VFR with some reluctant passengers and that was not fun. They were reluctant in retrospect, and did not enjoy the delays, deviating around weather and dealing with turbulence, etc, staying below the clouds. But, if you are flying with someone who would like the adventure, then it could be a lot of fun. Just be safe, and be prepared to delay if things change on you.
     
  17. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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  18. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I am old school and always use them (even to file a flight plan). I will call them starting on Wednesday night which is the earliest they told me they would have any "good" data regarding Friday morning.
     
  19. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Thank you, but your link makes me think I'm driving. Oh well, so be it.
     
  20. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I know about MOA's but there is RESTRICTED in there too. I am just going to avoid the area, it doesn't really do much but change my course by a few minutes and the RESTRICTED area juts out to the East making me go that way anyway.
     
  21. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Dew point spreads: how many degrees? I've seen them be the same and looked up and it was a nice day.
     
  22. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    He loves flying, and he went on a long XC with me already down the coast to Monterey (over 1 hour each way). He likes to help with maps, charts, and be totally involved in the flight, navigation, etc. He even said "awesome" when we dropped out of the sky two weekends ago due to turbulence near Mt. Tam.
     
  23. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    By the way, KSTS is OFTEN VFR when Petaluma is IFR so I don't trust the cloud information. In fact, that one night a few weekends ago EVERY AIRPORT IN CALIFORNIA, even the ones on / near the water, was VFR but stupid Petaluma was MVFR. I hate my home drome sometimes.
     
  24. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Route two, but coast is notorius for bad weather (low clouds) plus I am over water the whole time:


    [​IMG]
     
  25. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Route One and Route Two for comparison:

    [​IMG]



    [​IMG]
     
  26. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I feel like the inland route will "help" me with my weak XC skills whereas the coast is "too easy" to follow.

    The inland route will:

    Use a lot of airports as waypoints. I will get to practice "seeing airports".

    Help me practice pilotage by landmarks etc

    Gives me a lot more "outs" if I need to dodge a cloud or two

    Help me practice complex airspace if they don't clear me through it, I will be constantly watching which "ring" I'm in.

    Make me more familiar with towns in CA!
     
  27. Clark1961

    Clark1961 Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Degrees matter and trends matter. Rule of thumb is to start paying attention at 6 degrees and decreasing. When they converge, expect fog. When they are close, maybe expect low ceilings depending on circumstances. Remember lapse rate...
     
  28. jsadamson1

    jsadamson1 Pre-Flight

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    Kimberly,

    I have a few questions for you:

    Why does it seem that you have to "avoid" class Charlie or Bravo airspace?

    Have you ever used "flight following" with ATC?

    Lastly, if I am interpreting things correctly, you are renting a plane from a flight school?
     
  29. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    Don't fly into thunderstorms. Don't fly into IMC. Both can be seen with your mach 1 eyeballs. You're over thinking this Kim.
     
  30. jkgoblue

    jkgoblue Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Here's a site I like for long range precipitation forecast. It goes out as far as 180 hrs. Just check off how far out you want to forecast and pick precipitation and you get an animated map of what's in store for your trip.

    http://weather.rap.ucar.edu/model/index.php?model=gfs
     
  31. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Sorry Jesse but you've flown in crap and have an instrument rating. I have an impatient passenger, a job to get back to, a dog sitter charging me by the night, and other outside factors.

    If you mean "overthinking" is "posting questions on POA" then so be it. I don't have the vast flight experience you do.

    Also, I would hate to spend all these nights planning and printing out flight plans, figuring fuel and way points, all to "not go".

    Many of you (including Jesse and Henning) have said I should just avoid bad things as in when I'm in flight. I don't have the desire to do so or the experience to make that call. The "experienced pilots" on POA could "make it work" but I cannot. I am not willing to.

    On the flip side, two weeks ago, on a BEAUTIFUL day, I flew happily over the ocean in the 150 to dinner at Half Moon Bay with my boyfriend as a "practice flight" for my long XC this week. All clear below 12,000 at all airports quickly changed to "few" at 2800 when we landed and "overcast" at 2400 less than 2 hours after landing. The briefers had told me VFR until next day (no IFR in the SFO or OAK TAF's but by dinner Petaluma had gone MVFR at 1800). I worried and hurried and planned to fly low over the marsh since it was dark. I never did see that 1800 overcast at all and it was a gorgeous night flight home..... so - there is that to consider as well.

    The "go" vs "no go" decision is a highly personal one and I mainly started this thread to get information from other pilots - such as websites for planning - with technical information on clouds, precip, dew point spread, etc. Like someone mentioned, my old ways of "just calling a briefer" aren't gonna cut it this time.

    Kimberly
     
  32. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I will have no choice but to AVOID them. I will try to get a clearance through them, but I have only ONCE achieved this, and that was a miracle. I was with a captain (from POA) and even he could not get us Bravo clearance. So I plan to go "through" it but below it because they just don't give OK's that much around here. And yes, I ALWAYS get flight following, can't think of a flight when I haven't - sometimes when on the coast they lose me and can't help though.

    Yes, the rental is from a flight school / rental place.
     
  33. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Darn it, they just said it is an "unsettled weather pattern" for Sat, Sun, Mon (on the news radio). They say more information tonight at 11pm on channel five.

    Argh.
     
  34. jesse

    jesse Administrator Management Council Member

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    The reality of the situation Kim, is that at some point planning beyond a certain degree offers little net benefit because there will always be a certain level of random to weather that one needs to learn to deal with in flight.
     
  35. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    If this ends up being a No Go, I will officially have cancelled 100% of all "important" flights due to weather.

    1. POA member from East Coast met me in California, we got to airport, and got fogged in

    2. My uncle who only comes to North CA once per year for any length of time, same thing, we drove to the airport but clouds were bad

    3. My father, never drives this far North, former pilot, canceled at airport due to clouds (though we did fly a legal pattern for fun).

    4. I think there is a fourth flight I had to cancel, but I forget what it was.

    5. (Possible) this weekend's flight, planned / reserved back in February.
     
  36. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    Like I said, two weeks ago I had turbulence and REPORTED (but unseen) low clouds (unexpected / not forecasted). I left early on my flight to Monterey in January due to clouds too. But so far, I have not, in flight, had to fly around any weather. I am very aware that one day this will change. Perhaps I've been lucky, perhaps I don't fly enough, perhaps I cancel easily.
     
  37. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I have a feeling you charge for this, and that I can't afford to ask you how much, but - what do you charge?
     
  38. EppyGA

    EppyGA Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Planning a trip over a four day period when you HAVE to leave on one day HAVE to be back on the other is going to be problematic. Forecasting that far ahead is just not accurate enough IMHO to be worthwhile. I think you're going to want to drive this one

    BTW, start saving some $$$$ for your IR training! :D
     
  39. kimberlyanne546

    kimberlyanne546 Final Approach

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    I am not sure why you are answering a question with a question. If you want, you can PM me your rates. However, I know CFI's (mine) who charge between $49 - $75 per hour. Is that what you charge for online weather classes? You said you had a 12 hour weather training recently. At $75 per hour that would be $900.
     
  40. jsadamson1

    jsadamson1 Pre-Flight

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    Here in Memphis, going thru any airspace is easy when you request flight following. Even through the FedEx push ( literally 30+ heavys all coming from every direction at once) I flew straight over KMEM with clearance. Not saying its not hard out in Cali but just a suggestion.

    I would say that if the weather along your route does look good, schedule an hour lesson with a CFI to help you go over weather relating to your flight. This will help you plan safely for your trip and learn.

    Some advice for coastal areas that I use when flying to the Gulf, watch weather patterns and take note as to when the weather is usually best during the day. Then plan trips based on this data collected and you will have better odds of good weather.

    Don't fret about not being able to fly, as the saying goes; it's better to be on the ground wishing you were in the air than being in the air wishing you were on the ground.

    It sounds like your a safe pilot and stay safe by having your own minimums, that's good. I say get some training in weather and either get your IR or take some lessons in case you get into IMC accidentally.