A weekend flying trip is on the calendar today, as you’re scheduled to attend a family reunion in Springfield, MO. Your flight will depart from Olive Branch Airport (OLV), just outside of Memphis, TN and arrive at the Springfield Branson Airport (SGF). The airplane for the 221 nm trip is your pride and joy–a nicely-equipped Cessna T210 with dual WAAS GPSs, multi-function display and XM Weather. There is no ice protection. You have a commercial certificate with an instrument rating, and are proficient in the airplane, having flown it 150 hours in the last 12 months.
Your proposed departure time is 1630Z. It’s time to make the go/no go call.
There is a cold front stretching right across your route of flight, through southeastern Missouri and Arkansas. Earlier in the week, this front was forecast to develop into a serious line of thunderstorms, but that may be breaking up a little. Here’s what the surface weather depiction looks like:
The radar and satellite picture show that there is definitely solid cloud cover and some precipitation, but it’s not a solid line:
There are the usual AIRMETs out for possible icing in the clouds, although the freezing level is fairly high, so the AIRMET starts at 10,000 ft. While you probably can’t go high today, a cruising altitude of 6-8,000 appears to be out of any ice:
The AIRMET for turbulence shows the possibility of some bumps for the second half of your flight, as the winds are stronger to the north:
There are no Pilot Reports (PIREPs) in the area for either icing of turbulence.
Checking METAR reports along your route, you find both VFR and IFR conditions, with increasing wind as you get closer to your destination:
KMEM 201554Z 24008KT 10SM SCT060 BKN250 23/14 A2986 RMK AO2 SLP107 T02330139 $= KMEM 201454Z 20010KT 10SM BKN250 22/13 A2986 RMK AO2 SLP108 T02220133 50003 $=
KJBR 201553Z AUTO 29008KT 10SM SCT070 BKN090 20/12 A2984 RMK AO2 SLP102 T02000117= KJBR 201453Z AUTO 24010KT 10SM OVC070 18/11 A2983 RMK AO2 SLP100 T01830111 53003=
KBVX 201615Z AUTO 31003KT 10SM BKN110 17/14 A2986 RMK AO1= KBVX 201555Z AUTO 30005KT 10SM SCT110 17/13 A2986 RMK AO1= KBVX 201535Z AUTO 29004KT 10SM CLR 17/14 A2984 RMK AO1=
KBBG 201555Z 33013G20KT 3SM BR OVC005 08/08 A2995= KBBG 201445Z 33014G18KT 3SM -RA BR OVC005 09/09 A2991=
KSGF 201552Z 35011G18KT 10SM OVC015 09/06 A2996 RMK AO2 SLP143 T00890056= KSGF 201452Z 35015G20KT 10SM OVC011 08/06 A2994 RMK AO2 SLP136 T00780056 51025=
The prog charts show the cold front continuing to move eastward, with the associated rain and clouds. The 12-hour chart, valid for just a few hours after your proposed departure, looks like this:
The 24-hour prog chart is valid for 10-hours after your proposed departure:
The Area Forecast (FA) gives some more details, and generally calls for layered clouds, so there may some VMC conditions along your route:
NERN TX...UPDT BKN070 LYRD FL250. SCT -SHRA/WDLY SCT TSRA. CB TOP FL380. TS POSS SEV. BECMG 1417 BKN030. WDLY SCT -SHRA/-TSRA. OTLK...MVFR CIG SHRA BECMG 0002 VFR.
AR NW...BKN050 LYRD FL250. SCT -SHRA/WDLY SCT TSRA. CB TOP FL380. BECMG 1114 BKN030. TIL 16Z ISOL -SHRA. 22Z BKN060. OTLK...VFR. SW-E HLF...BKN CI. BECMG 1619 BKN030 LYRD FL250. SCT -SHRA/WDLY SCT -TSRA. CB TOP FL380. OTLK...MVFR CIG SHRA TSRA AFT 02Z MVFR CIG.
TN W...SKC. 13Z BKN CI. BECMG 1720 BKN040 LYRD FL250. SCT -SHRA/ISOL -TSRA. CB TOP FL380. OTLK...VFR SHRA AFT 00Z MVFR CIG SHRA. MID...SCT030. OCNL VIS 3-5SM BR. 16Z SCT CI. OTLK...VFR AFT 02Z MVFR CIG SHRA. E...BKN030 TOP 040. OCNL VIS 3-5SM BR. BECMG 1417 SCT060. OTLK...VFR AFT 23Z VFR SHRA.
MO NW...BKN030 LYRD FL250. WND N G25KT. BECMG 1518 BKN050. WND N G25KT. 21Z BKN050. OTLK...VFR. NERN...BKN030 LYRD FL250. OCNL VIS 5SM BR. ISOL -SHRA/-TSRA. CB TOP FL360. BECMG 1821 BKN050. OTLK...VFR. SW...BKN030 LYRD FL250. SCT -SHRA/ISOL -TSRA. CB TOP FL380. 14Z ISOL -SHRA. 22Z BKN060. OTLK...VFR. SE...BKN100 LYRD FL250. BECMG 1316 BKN050. ISOL -SHRA. BECMG 1720 SCT -SHRA/ISOL -TSRA. CB TOP FL380. OTLK...VFR SHRA AFT 01Z MVFR CIG.
The terminal forecasts show showers and some wind, although generally VFR conditions, for the first half of your flight. The second half shows lowering IFR conditions, but still well above approach minimums:
TAF AMD KMEM 201458Z 2015/2112 22010KT P6SM FEW050 BKN250 FM201900 29012KT P6SM -SHRA VCTS OVC040CB FM202100 32012KT P6SM -RA FEW025 OVC035 FM210100 36014G23KT 6SM -RA OVC015 TEMPO 2101/2104 4SM RA BR FM210700 36011G20KT P6SM OVC015=
TAF KJBR 201121Z 2012/2112 22005KT P6SM SCT250 FM201400 24008KT P6SM FEW050 OVC250 FM201800 30010KT P6SM -SHRA OVC035 FM202000 33013G20KT P6SM -RA SCT015 OVC025 TEMPO 2021/2101 4SM RA BR OVC015 FM210300 01012G24KT P6SM OVC030=
TAF AMD KBBG 201504Z 2015/2112 33010G18KT 3SM BR VCSH OVC005 FM201800 34008KT P6SM OVC010 FM202100 34009KT P6SM BKN025 FM210100 33005KT P6SM FEW030=
TAF AMD KSGF 201502Z 2015/2112 35010G20KT P6SM OVC011 FM201800 34012KT P6SM OVC012 FM202100 35012KT P6SM BKN025 FM202300 36006KT P6SM FEW030=
So is this front just a weak line of showers with layered clouds, or a strengthening system that could create serious thunderstorms? Your 210 is fueled up and ready to go–do you make the flight?