Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flight Planning for Friday (III)

The nice folks at Wunderground provide a number of elegant aviation-related weather maps (as usual, see the link list at right). Here's a small segment of the freezing level map forecast for 00Z on Friday.

The medium blue color indicates a freezing level about 8,000 feet AGL (Above Ground Level). The gold color indicates freezing about 11,000 feet AGL. So, if the forecast is valid any clouds I encounter at 8,000 feet or below should be free of icing.

A quick cross-check of both the GFS and NAM temperature predictions at the 5,000 foot height gives similar results.

When I file my flight plan the Air Traffic Control folks will assign a route based on their need to keep me away from commercial traffic in and out of the New York area. I can request whatever I want...what I will get is a route taking me west from Bridgeport to Sparta, NJ at 8,000 feet, then south to Solberg in central NJ then west again to Allentown, PA then south over Reading and Lancaster, then southeast to Baltimore, south past Andrews AFB and a last short westbound leg into Potomac Airfield.

If you picture that routing overlaid on the freezing level map you can see that I should be in good shape, even if the NAM forecast turns out to be right.

So as of now (midday Wednesday) I'm optimistic about making the flight on Friday evening. Tomorrow after lunch, we can look at the TAF's (Terminal Area Forecast) for the major airports (i.e., Kennedy, Baltimore and Dulles) because they look out 30 hours. That will be our first chance to work with specific forecasts. And, we can settle on a flight plan!

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