This article is the second in a series called “Go or no go?” We’ll present actual weather conditions for a planned trip. You study the forecast and tell us if you would fly the trip or stay on the ground–and why. Just write a comment below the article to post your answer.
On the schedule for today: a family trip from cold and gray Cleveland, Ohio to the beautiful Green Mountains of New England for vacation. Your planned flight departs Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport (KBKL) and arrives at Claremont Municipal in Claremont, New Hampshire. Since you do not have an instrument rating, the flight will be VFR, but your Cirrus SR-20 is well-equipped with a good autopilot, moving map GPS, terrain warnings, XM Weather, traffic alerts and more. In your 500 hours of flying, this has become a regular trip for you, most recently last month. But while you’re comfortable with the airplane and the route, will the weather cooperate?
First, a look at the overall weather picture is in order. The latest surface analysis shows a high pressure area over the Northeast, but an area of rain and clouds moving into the Cleveland area:
The regional radar agrees with this surface analysis, showing a large area of rain moving in from the west of Cleveland, clear skies over Pennsylvania and New York, and some scattered precipitation just east of your destination:
Next up is the satellite picture, which shows you’re getting out of Ohio just in time. Clouds are approaching Cleveland, but it looks clear for most of your flight. Some thin clouds are in the New Hampshire and Vermont area, which is a consideration.
Finally, it’s always worth a quick look at AIRMETs along your route. Today there are some icing AIRMETs, but they start at 9000 ft., so they shouldn’t be a concern. But there is an AIRMET for clouds and visibility:
Now for the text weather. While clouds are rolling in, conditions in Cleveland are still excellent VFR:
KBKL 160153Z 15010G16KT 10SM OVC085 05/M01 A3015 RMK AO2 SLP215 T00501011
KBKL 160053Z 14005KT 10SM SCT095 05/M02 A3017 RMK AO2 SLP220 T00501017
KBKL 152353Z 16006KT 10SM OVC100 06/M02 A3018 RMK AO2 SLP224 T00561017 10072 20050 53002
Fortunately you’re leaving in 30 minutes, because the forecast is not as promising:
KCLE 152339Z 1600/1706 17006KT P6SM SCT050 OVC080 TEMPO 1602/1605 4SM -RA SCT025 OVC035 FM160500 16008KT 5SM -RA BR SCT025 OVC035 FM160900 16008KT 4SM -RA BR SCT015 OVC025 TEMPO 1612/1616 1 1/2SM -RA BR SCT006 OVC012 FM161800 25010KT P6SM OVC025 FM162100 26010KT P6SM OVC035
Conditions en route are also good VFR, and are forecast to stay that way for at least the next 6 hours. Here are the current METAR and TAF reports for Buffalo and Albany, New York:
KBUF 160254Z 13006KT 10SM FEW100 SCT250 M01/M04 A3020 RMK AO2 SLP237 T10111044 55009
KBUF 160154Z 14005KT 10SM FEW033 SCT100 SCT250 M01/M04 A3020 RMK AO2 SLP235 T10061044
KBUF 160054Z 17003KT 10SM FEW033 SCT100 SCT250 00/M04 A3022 RMK AO2 SLP241 T00001039
KBUF 160247Z 1603/1624 14005KT P6SM SCT100 FM160400 14005KT P6SM BKN100 FM161000 14005KT P6SM VCSH OVC060 FM161200 17010KT 5SM -RA OVC040 FM161700 21012KT P6SM VCSH OVC040 FM162100 23015KT 5SM -SHRA BR OVC015
KALB 160251Z 27005KT 10SM OVC036 02/M02 A3029 RMK AO2 SLP259 T00221017 51008
KALB 160151Z 27005KT 9SM BKN036 02/M02 A3028 RMK AO2 SLP256 T00221017
KALB 160051Z 28006KT 10SM BKN040 02/M02 A3027 RMK AO2 SLP255 T00171022
KALB 152326Z 1600/1624 00000KT P6SM FEW040 FEW090 FM160600 00000KT P6SM SCT110 SCT250 FM161200 VRB03KT P6SM BKN110 OVC200 FM161800 17004KT 4SM -RA BR SCT020 BKN035 OVC070
Weather at your destination is more of a concern, where rising terrain means low clouds are a concern. Claremont does not report weather, but Lebanon (10 miles to the north) is reporting marginal VFR conditions. The good news is that visibility is excellent:
KLEB 160153Z 00000KT 10SM BKN027 OVC038 02/M02 A3021 RMK AO2 SLP239 T00171022
KLEB 160107Z 00000KT 10SM BKN029 OVC036 01/M02 A3020 RMK AO2
KLEB 160053Z 00000KT 10SM OVC031 01/M03 A3020 RMK AO2 SLP234 T00111028
KLEB 152353Z 00000KT 10SM BKN037 BKN044 OVC100 02/M03 A3019 RMK AO2 SLP230 T00171028 10067 20011 53016
Springfield, Vermont (5 miles to the west of your destination) is a little better, with scattered clouds instead of broken to overcast:
KVSF 160154Z AUTO 28003KT 10SM FEW026 SCT034 OVC041 03/M02 A3023 RMK AO2 SLP243 T00331017
KVSF 160147Z AUTO 27004KT 10SM SCT027 BKN034 OVC041 03/M02 A3023 RMK AO2
KVSF 160127Z AUTO 28004KT 10SM BKN027 OVC033 02/M02 A3022 RMK AO2
KVSF 160054Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM OVC035 02/M03 A3021 RMK AO2 SLP238 T00221033
KVSF 152354Z AUTO 00000KT 10SM OVC043 02/M03 A3020 RMK AO2 SLP233 T00221033 10072 20022 53016
So, are you going? Here’s a twist: did you notice that this flight will be conducted completely after sunset? How does this impact your decision?