Two flights in the last week have reminded me of how vital it is to stay aware of the limitations of NEXRAD displays and to always remember that they are only one voice in the chorus, one instrument in the band. Depending on circumstances, other inputs may be more important and more informative. All sources of information have to be integrated to arrive at the best decision. You have to meld information from the controller's ASR radar display and input from the view through the windscreen with the picture on the XM Weather display to get the best image of what is happening. Last Monday's flight from Potomac Airfield (KVKX) up to Bridgeport (KBDR) was illustrative.
N631S and I broke out into fairly clear skies and continued north toward JFK. A look ahead indicated that only light precipitation was to be expected over Long Island and near Bridgeport. In fact, Bridgeport was still reporting VFR conditions!
By the time we got near Bridgeport the ceiling had lowered to 800 feet, so it was necessary to fly the ILS approach to Runway 6. That, and the landing, were uneventful.
Looking back, the flight had relied on information from the NEXRAD display (XM Weather) for the "big picture" and weather avoidance strategy; and on the Approach Radar's excellent real-time information to guide the penetration of moderate adverse weather. And, reference to visual inputs to maintain a real-world picture of what N631S was flying through.
In the next post here, I'll share some details on Friday's flight from Bridgeport back to the DC area where information from the Mark I Eyeball became the primary input needed for successful completion of the flight on a boisterous evening.