After a long Christmas break, it’s time to return to your home south of Seattle, Washington, from your home on the water in Ocean Shores, Washington. The flight from Ocean Shores Airport (W04) to Pierce County Airport (PLU) is an easy 30-minute flight in your Cirrus SR22 – much better than a two and a half hour drive. But as always, the weather may spoil your plans.
That’s particularly true because, while you have an instrument rating, you haven’t logged any approaches in at least nine months so you aren’t current. That means this flight will be strictly VFR. Proposed departure time is 2300Z, or 3pm local. That should put you in Puyallup a solid hour before sunset, so the flight will be during the daytime (if it happens).
Read the weather conditions below, then add a comment to tell us what you would do.
There’s a weak disturbance off the coast of Washington, and while conditions aren’t terrible, there are some scattered showers over the western portion of the state. Conditions seem to be better as you move east toward Seattle.
The surface analysis shows a weak stationary front hanging down from Canada, although it doesn’t seem to be very organized.
It looks like conditions might get worse overnight, as the prog charts show more rain coming on shore from an approaching low.
The radar image doesn’t show any organized lines, just showery precipitation.
The infrared satellite imagery shows fairly solid clouds to the south, but more scattered around Puget Sound.
A look at the visible satellite confirms this analysis, but reinforces the widespread nature of the cloud layers.
This is the key issue today – you won’t be flying in clouds so ice and freezing levels don’t matter, and there doesn’t appear to be any convective weather. But will the rain showers scuttle your proposed VFR flight?
Your departure airport doesn’t have any weather reporting, but a look out the window shows gray skies to the east, with brighter skies to the north. The nearest METAR – about 10 miles east southeast of your departure – backs that up, showing marginal VFR and light rain. The forecast isn’t great, although current conditions seem to be better than the forecast. The rain may have moved through already.
En route things get better, with solid VFR ceilings over Olympia.
At your destination, conditions are also very good VFR. It’s windy, but mostly down the runway.
Your destination airport and the en route METARs look encouraging, but your departure airport is on the edge. The radar suggests the rain may be scattered enough that you could deviate around the rain shafts and stay in good visibility. But is that a chance you want to take?
Add your comment below.
- TAFs are so last century—here are four new tools to try - September 18, 2023
- Five changes the new MOSAIC rule could bring to aviation - August 16, 2023
- Go or No Go: never judge a forecast by its radar image - August 9, 2023