Introduction

The previous sections have been about gathering the data and understanding it, now we want to enhance that understanding and help you to think ahead.

We’re getting into the GUTS of it now!

In order to understand your weather you need;

  • some basic understanding about national, regional and local weather patterns, which you now have from the previous sections and your own research,
  • a way to organise the data to aid analysis, and
  • the ability to make a picture — a mental one or an actual one.

It takes continual practice and experience to develop your skill in evaluating and applying weather information. We encourage you to take every opportunity to learn about how the weather affects your local area and the areas you fly in.

Before you go flying, especially if you don’t fly often, take some time to get your head in the weather. We have a 7-Day Challenge you might like to try. You gather weather information by looking outside, watching the TV, or however you usually get your weather information, and then you forecast what you expect to see for the day ahead.

Once the day is over you can download the METARs from the previous day and compare them against your forecast. Wherever your forecast and the actual report differ you can look into why that might be. Perhaps you forgot to take into account the effect terrain has in your area or maybe your timings were wildly out. Whatever the difference go and find out why.

As an added bonus, this tool makes you look outside and notice what is going on in the sky, which is especially important if you plan to go flying. If you work in an office then it is really easy for the weather to go unnoticed during your work day. Spend some time noticing.

Let’s look at what creates weather and how it affects your flight, then we'll look at collating the data using tables, and then create a picture with that data.

Invercargill

Above mean sea level

TCu

Towering Cumulus

agl

above ground level

Cb

Cumulonimbus

Flight Information Service communications

ATS

Air Traffic Service

Royal New Zealand Air Force

in vicinity of aerodrome Thunderstorm

ATC

Air Traffic Control

VC

in vicinity of aerodrome

Probabilityxx%

TIL

Until

FM

From

Becoming

Temporarily

Routine air report from aircraft in flight

FIR

Flight Information Region

Internet Flight Information Service

VFR

Visual flight rules

Automatic Terminal Information Service

BWR

Basic weather report

New Zealand Flight Information Region

Aerodrome special routine meteorological report

Automatic aerodrome routine meteorological report

Aerodrome routine meteorological report

TAF

Aerodrome forecast

Area forecast

Significant meteorological information