The government is getting around to updating the Aviation Digital Data Service, and AOPA has the story:

“A design refresh of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Aviation Weather Center/Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) website will go live March 25.

The new website design, which pilots can preview here before the launch, is meant to improve content organization, navigation, look and feel, functionality, and usability. The upgrade is part of an effort to bring the Web properties of the National Weather Service to a common standard, and includes changes that should improve functionality across more browsers and devices.

Aviation Weather Center Director Bob Maxson said in a media release that the refresh provides pilots, briefers, and other users a more interactive experience. “The current web site is more than 10 years old and needed an update to ensure all systems and previous upgrades were compatible. Some of our old displays no longer function with modern software and browsers. Users have cited better interactivity with mobile devices as a desired need.”

Read the whole story here. Or after March 25th, check it out for yourself here.

Cool Wx Research

The National Weather Service now has additional help from above. From AVweb:

Southwest has installed water-vapor sensors on 87 of its 737s, and is sharing the data with the National Weather Service. “We have seen improvements in the capabilities for forecasting severe thunderstorms, and also the forecast of whether the storm is going to produce rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet,” said Carl Weiss, an aviation meteorologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency for NWS. The aircraft collect data continuously at every altitude, from the surface to the flight levels, at locations around the country. “Now we don’t have to wait for the 12-hour updates [for data collected from weather balloons], we get data almost real-time,”…”

A Gift for the Aviator that has everything

I know it isn’t Thanksgiving yet, but it is never too early to start putting together your own Xmas list. Air Facts reviews “Weather Flying” and I think it’s made mine:

“When Bob Buck’s book Weather Flying was released in 1970, it became an instant classic. Wolfgang Langewiesche said of it, “Other books explain how weather is made; this book explains how weather is flown.” Truer words were never spoken.

The fifth edition of Weather Flying includes significant updates by Bob Buck’s son, Rob.
Bob Buck died in 2007 at 93. His son, Rob, picked up the torch and brought everything up to date in the fifth edition, now available.

Bob started out in 1930, set records as a teenager and flew for TWA in an airline career that saw him fly everything from the DC-2 to the 747. Along the way, during World War Two, he flew a B-17 and other airplanes while doing some of the most remarkable weather research flying ever done. He probably knew more about airplanes and weather than anybody.

Rob, his son, worked in general aviation, including a time at Business & Commercial Aviation, from the same publisher as FLYING. Like his father, he went on to an airline career and retired from Delta as an international captain.

So, what you have in “Weather Flying” is a compilation of weather wisdom that was amassed over an 83-year period. There is nothing else like that available and there never will be. So, calling it a unique book is absolutely factual.”

You can purchase a copy here.

How much do you want to know about Wx?

That’s what AOPA editor at large Thomas A. Horne asks in his latest blog post:

“My whole idea behind Wx Watch is to provide a mix of practical information with occasional introductions to some advanced concepts. Concepts that can help further an understanding of how weather works, as well as help better understand briefing products (such as Convective Outlooks). I take the same approach when giving my presentations on aviation weather at AOPA Summit. The audiences seem to enjoy knowing more about the weather than is provided in traditional pilot training materials. Seems logical to me. After all, we fly in it–be it good VMC or miserable IMC. Besides, weather-related accidents tend to have a disproportionate level of fatal outcomes….

So where do you stand? Do explanations of weather dynamics have a place in discussions of aviation weather, or do generalizations suffice? I suppose the answer is a mix of both. But for the squeamish, be forewarned: A Skew-T chart will appear in October’s Wx Watch! It will show a temperature profile of freezing rain, and there will be no quiz!”

To let him know what you’d like to see, visit the blog here.

The Nexrad Delay

Nexrad image; ccimage courtesy of jesse varner on flickr

J. Mac McClellan has an interesting post up on how Nexrad doesn’t always show the whole story:

” A Nexrad radar requires five to six minutes to complete a full 360 degree sweep depending on what mode the operator selects. The incredible growth and rapid movement of the cell I had noticed was the result of completion of that minutes long Nexrad sweep, not the 52-second rotation of the fake radar sweep line.

I hacked my watch and it took more than five minutes for anything to change again on the radar display. The fake sweep kept going round and round, but no cells moved, or changed shape or intensity until five minutes had passed since the last new picture.

I have written many times about the delay inherent in Nexrad, particularly the delay of receiving a Nexrad mosaic image in the cockpit. But this was the first real live example I have seen of how crucial that delay can be. Before my eyes a cell had grown from moderate to very heavy rain and moved many miles since it was last presented by the Nexrad. If you had been trying to weave around that cell using Nexrad you could have had a really big surprise.”

Read the whole post here.

The Dryline

Surface Analysis courtesy NOAA

What’s that coming off the low pressure center in western Oklahoma and running across Texas? It’s called a Dryline.

From the Meteorology Glossary:
“The dryline is found all over the world. In the United States the dryline, which marks the boundary between moist air from the Gulf of Mexico and dry continental air from the west, is found in the Plains region. It is most often present during the spring, where it is often the site of thunderstorm development. Typically the dryline in the United States advances eastward during the day and retreats westward at night.”

The dryline is the reason why many of our pilots have been relegated to hangar flying while we deal with storms almost every day. It was also a factor in the Oklahoma tornados a week ago. Here’s an interesting graphic from Wikimedia Commons that shows how the dryline depicts the collision of air masses:

The dryline from Wikimedia Commons

Flight into a Snowstorm

With all our recent snow this is good timing to prepare for the unexpected. The Air Safety Foundation has a good presentation about what happened to a high-time pilot who flew into a snowstorm.

You can find the presentation here.

New Weather Website

Credit: ADDS Experimental

Here’s a link to the new ADDS website. For weather briefings, it may be the new place to be.

ADDS is a free public service produced by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) under sponsorship of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Benefits include:
Customizable home page
Area weather reports
Personal settings
Timely product updates
Active user community

Hat Tip: Air Facts