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Old 02-16-2012, 06:45 AM
matt gethers matt gethers is offline
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Default Who wants to talk about the weather?...... I do!

After my first taste of lift I have spent the last 2 weeks reading all I can about soarable weather conditions and day dreaming about my first XC flight from wes-mar to the radio tower. So I signed up for XC Skies and have began to set it up with mycast predictions. I was hoping maybe someone who also uses XC Skies could point me in the right direction for what indicators are most important at wes-mar. And maybe I could spark a discussion about what the experts are waiting to see this time of year. I picture you experts calmly sitting if front of computer waiting for the first signs of the soaring season to appear.....what are they? I imagine temp has a lot to do with it, but maybe also the amount of moisture in the air...? With my limited knowledge about the weather it looks to me that Sunday is looking like it could be a good day for soaring? Has anyone else noticed this? Do you agree? What indicators do you rely on the most? Is there a "house thermal" at wes-mar? (I read about that term)
Basically I am hoping for advice on learning how to predict the weather... with special emphasis on this time of year, the late winter/early spring. And with special instructions on how to use XC Skies. I think there are other new pilots who can benefit from this topic as well. So what is your own personal routine for predicting the weather? Can you walk us through it?
Thanks for your time
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Old 02-16-2012, 10:38 AM
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CHassan CHassan is offline
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Weather is a cruel temptress.

Attempting to predict and read the weather is a futile effort.

I've used XC skies for about 4 years now. During the first 3 years it proved right more times than wrong. Last year the area over Ohio had a repetitive pattern hanging over top it almost the entire year. Maybe bad sensors, maybe broken software, or maybe it was just such bad soaring conditions they didn't even bother to update it, but it was way off most of the time.

When looking at XC I use 3 main views. At least when I know I'm going flying.
"Top of usable lift"
Basically how high you can go. Not to be confused with cloudbase. Also not to be confused with altitude above the ground. (Yeah, MSL not AGL)

Updraft Velocity
Basically how fast you can expect to go up in an average thermal for the day.
This doesn't take into account your sink rate. You have to subtract your sink rate from the updraft velocity. This is also considered an average velocity. If it says 400fpm, you might find nothing or you might find 800fpm.

Buoyancy to shear ratio (BS Ratio)
Obtained by taking the updraft velocity and the wind aloft and doing something to them to get a number between 1 and 10. You want higher numbers. Low numbers mean there is less buoyancy and more shear. As the site says, below 5 thermals are likely to be broken apart by the wind, but that is not always the case.

This time of year thermals are usually few and far between. Most of us are fair weather flyers and don't brave the cold barren fields in the winter.(or the given drive time to air time ratio is to high) Most wait until the spring flying begins. That usually comes after the majority of the spring rains come and go.

The remaining views in XC skies provide varying usefulness. Some provide nice to know information for XC planning. Such as he cloud views, and the wind speeds. Others provide the data that is used in creating the 3 views I mentioned previously. like heat flux, surface temps, and thermal index.

Lifted index and cape will clue you in on the probability of over development.

You can stare at the weather charts for hours and review it 30 times the night before, or even the morning you are going flying, but the reality is, you never know unless you go.

For most of us, if we can go flying, we go flying. Doesn't really matter what the forecasts say.
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Old 02-17-2012, 06:24 PM
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Larry Ball Larry Ball is offline
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You can stare at the weather charts for hours and review it 30 times the night before, or even the morning you are going flying, but the reality is, you never know unless you go.

For most of us, if we can go flying, we go flying. Doesn't really matter what the forecasts say.[/quote]

Craig is exactly right. Last year for example, it wasn't a matter of whether it was going to be soarable, but whether it was going to be flyable or not. I think wind direction and speed are the most important factor to determine first. That factor alone will dictate whether you will be flying at all let alone soaring and where you will be flying if you are willing to travel to different sites. Normally I check all the normal weather sites, Weather Channel, Intellicast, etc. and see what the consensus is on the thermal source (the sun),wind direction and speed to determine if I'm going to going flying or not. Then I try to look at the soaring casts to determine which site might be the best. It usually ends up being a coin toss and a 50/50 chance at being soarable. You just have to be there and make the most out of what mother nature gives you
Larry B

Last edited by Larry Ball; 02-17-2012 at 06:30 PM.
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