Knowing how to effectively navigate your way through the information from your weather products is a key skill to have in the aviation industry. Easier said than done, right? Approaching weather products can be overwhelming, so here are a few tips to keep in mind.
Cross-check between stations and products.
Every region has its own unique characteristics, so you should never rely on a single source. Use multiple weather products at once and don’t hesitate to contact a weather briefer.
Work from big to small.
To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, break your resources down. Start with the “big picture” by using conventionally circulated media like your phone’s weather app or US imagery charts. Once you’ve got a general idea of the forecast, then go in for a more detailed look with radar imagery, prognostic charts, METARs, TAFs, and hazardous weather advisories.
Know your product’s length of validity.
You wouldn’t want to use invalid weather products in the same way you wouldn’t want to drink expired milk. Using a weather product past its validity date can be dangerous. You can check your product’s validity by calling flight service.
Pre-plan weather checkpoints along your route.
It’s common to check the weather 3 times on your flight. Once during the weather briefing, once during departure, and once during arrival. However, advances in technology have made it possible to check-in throughout any phase! Create pre-planned weather checkpoints along your route to gather the most up-to-date data possible.
This might be one of the most important rules of the aviation industry in general- you’re better safe than sorry after all. When analyzing weather patterns, look for reasons not to fly. The last thing you want to do is underestimate a potential weather hazard.
Don’t be afraid to call a weather briefer.
Weather briefers play a crucial role in the aviation industry, ensuring the safety of thousands of pilots by keeping them informed about any potential weather hazards. While weather product technology is an amazing resource for researching climate parameters and anomalies, nothing can replace good old-fashioned experience. It’s beneficial to supplement cold hard data with personal human opinion.