After spending a nice Easter weekend at home, tonight you’ll be flying from Wichita Falls, TX (CWC) to Wichita, KS (ICT) for a presentation at a big conference. Trips like these are exactly why you bought an airplane: more family time, less airline hassle and more efficient scheduling.
The only question is (as usual), will the weather cooperate?
You pull out your iPad at 8:45pm CDT for one final check before your scheduled departure at 9pm. In your 1983 Bonanza, the trip will take just one hour and 15 minutes. The airplane is well-equipped, with a Garmin GNS 530W, 430W, autopilot and XM Weather receiver. You also have your trusty iPad on your lap. As a pilot, you are up to 700 hours of total time now, with over 250 of those in the Bonanza. You are instrument rated and current, and you almost always file IFR when you travel.
Read the weather report below, then decide if you’re going or not.
Your flight will take you from north Texas, past Oklahoma City and into Kansas. A quick glance shows storms on either side of your route:
The latest surface analysis shows a low to the northwest of your route, with a trough running south from the low. This is probably stirring up some of those storms to the west:
The 12-hour forecast map shows the area of rain slowly moving east, as that trough develops into a dry line:
The 24-hour forecast shows the cold front finally pushing through and clearing out most of the rain:
The radar will get the most attention tonight, with rain all around:
The radar map in ForeFlight shows different intensities, and it also shows the direction of movement:
The infrared satellite picture shows fairly widespread clouds, but there is a small gap that is close to your route:
With the colorful radar, you’re not surprised to find some convective SIGMETs:
Icing and Turbulence
These are two issues that probably won’t be a concern tonight. The freezing level is at 12,000 ft., so you should be well below any icing at your planned 7000 ft. cruising altitude. There are no PIREPs for icing in the area.
While there may be a few bumps in the clouds, there is no widespread turbulence forecast, and the only PIREP in the area is for moderate turbulence between 10,000 and 18,000 ft.
While you’ll be IFR tonight, it may be best to stay out of the clouds as long as possible. With that in mind, you review the METARs and TAFs for your departure and destination airports, plus an en route airport:
KCWC 210135Z AUTO 13012G16KT 10SM CLR 17/15 A3002 RMK A02 LTG DSNT E AND SE
202345Z 2100/2124 15011KT P6SM FEW035 SCT250
FM210400 16010KT P6SM BKN007
FM211500 19009KT P6SM BKN015
FM211800 36008KT P6SM SCT035
KOKC 210059Z 20010KT 10SM BKN024 OVC180 17/13 A3003
KICT 210053Z 18011KT 10SM FEW040 SCT130 BKN200 21/13 A2996
202321Z 2100/2124 17012KT P6SM BKN100
FM210500 19010KT P6SM BKN015
FM210800 20010KT P6SM OVC008
FM211600 35012KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 BKN060
As is so often the case, the weather tonight offers options to make the flight and also reasons to be concerned. There appears to be a large gap between the lines of rain, and the METARs suggest you might be in good VMC conditions for much of the flight. But a dry line in Texas is nothing to mess with, and it is night.
It’s time to make the call – go or no go?
Update: Want to see what the radar looked like at your proposed arrival time? Click here to see the image – do you feel good about your decision?