After a great visit with your extended family and a stunning view of the solar eclipse, it’s time to head home from Carbondale, Illinois (MWA), to New Lexington, Ohio (I86). The good news is the winds aloft are helping today: the 340 mile flight will take just over two hours in your Cessna 182. The bad news is a cold front is moving in from the west, with rain and storms popping up ahead of it.
Departure time is 1600Z. Read the weather brief below and tell us if you would make the flight or cancel.
Rain is moving in from the northwest, so while it’s clear to the east, your route of flight will take you right along some interesting weather.
The surface weather depiction shows what the driving force is: a cold front is sliding down from northwest Illinois and Missouri.
A look at the radar image shows relatively calm conditions east of the front, but some cells look like they are just starting to pop up.
The satellite image confirms that all the weather is along the frontal boundary.
The Graphical AIRMETs show no areas of widespread IFR conditions:
Icing also doesn’t look like an issue, with freezing levels above 10,000 feet today.
Given the gusty winds, it looks like there might be some bumps down low as you get close to your destination.
This is the major concern today, so after reviewing the radar, you look at the Convective SIGMETs map.
For more detail, here is the Convective Forecast chart series:
The weather at your departure is marginal VFR, with good visibility but layered clouds. The forecast suggests VFR conditions for the rest of the day, but with gusty winds and showers in the area. It’s worth noting that the TAF is actually for an airport over 40 miles away, which could be significant today.
En route weather looks to be the same, with layered clouds and thunderstorms in Evansville. Conditions seem to be much better as you get further ahead of the front.
Your destination airport does not report weather, but surrounding airports are reporting good VFR. The nearest TAF has more worrying letters, including thunderstorms in the area and gusty winds.
Time to make the call: is it a go or a no go? There is no threat of icing or low IFR conditions, but thunderstorms are definitely around. You could take off and fly to the east, to get ahead of the weather, before turning back north. Is that a smart diversion or a trap?
Add your comment below.
Update – what happened?
As we always say about these Go or No Go scenarios, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. The decision depends on your experience, your airplane and your schedule flexibility. Here’s a screenshot of the same day, one hour after your proposed departure. You would be about halfway there, near Cincinnati, at the time of this screenshot. If you went direct, things appear to be closing up. If you deviated out to the east on takeoff, there’s still a path, but another line has formed to the southeast.
After seeing this picture, have you changed your mind?