Have you hugged your weatherman?

We are taught to be skeptical of the weatherman. After all, you received 10 inches of snow instead of the 8 inches they promised. They predicted cloud bases to be 3,000 feet, but they started at 2,500 feet. Maybe unlimited visibility was assured, but haze reduced visibility to six miles. How could they be so wrong? We are all well entrenched in the computer age so we want accuracy, frequency and lots of it. We firmly believe weather forecasts should be accurate to within minutes, and if it isn’t, then it’s just another blown prediction. But no one ever remembers when the weatherman is right. And yes, they are more accurate than pilots and the public let on. If the weatherman is moving in periods of rain overnight (no, not showers and yes there is a difference) you can bet the ground will be wet in the morning. And what about that thunderstorm mentioned in the TAF that didn’t happen, or did it? Even though it was not reported directly at the airport it may have happened in your training area some ten miles from the airport. Stop blaming and start observing, listening and querying weather as this may save you one day.

Environment Canada’s newest class of meteorologists in 1985 consisting of 14 weathermen/weather-women. The guy sitting in the center with a wry, confident smile was nothing but trouble. He had a commercial pilot license and dreamed of being an airline pilot. How silly!

A pilot friend mentioned weather to him is like voodoo, it is magic laden with mysticism and few understand it. (I suppose we can say that about the workings of the internet, how a computer works or the magic of a refrigerator). Most pilots do not know where their aviation forecasts are created. Sure, they appreciate METARs are observed at the airport by a qualified weather observer, but who takes these routine METARs and forecasts into the future? Where is the witch doctor’s whereabouts and how do they practice their black magic trade? This beating on the drum and chanting to the weather gods is difficult. You may be promised a big fat high pressure system will dominate your flight, but as one forecaster said years ago, this scenario opens curve balls. Light winds and clear skies from a “dirty high” may be conducive to ground (radiation) fog something you don’t want to find on your night cross country flight.

This is where, you, the pilot comes in. You are given the scenario, but you should always be asking, what can go wrong? This will help you stay one step ahead of it all, just in case a curve ball is thrown.

Published by pilotweatherwisdom

Airline Pilot/meteorologist/author

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