It’s your regular business trip: Cincinnati, Ohio (I69), to Atlanta, Georgia (PDK) for an overnight visit. It’s an easy two hour flight in your Cirrus SR22, and you’re familiar with the route, but the weather map is colorful today. As you open ForeFlight just before noon local time, here are the weather maps you see. Read the briefing below and decide whether you would make the flight, with a proposed departure time of 1pm (1700Z).
There’s a full rainbow of colors on the map today, with thunderstorms and IFR conditions, but most of the ugly weather seems to be off to the west of your route.
The surface analysis shows a low pressure centered on Arkansas, with a north/south cold front extending from it. There appears to be a weak stationary front extending out to the east of the low (and right across your route).
The satellite image matches up with the overall picture.
The prog charts show that cold front marching its way toward your destination over the next 24 hours. The prog chart for one hour after your departure shows the rain holding off.
The next prog chart shows the weather starting to approach Georgia by 00Z.
And by early tomorrow morning the low is over the middle of Tennessee.
One of your primary concerns today is convection, and there is certainly some lightning in the rain over Mississippi. The convective forecast shows pretty much what you’d expect.
And the convective SIGMETs match up with that.
Another concern today is icing, since you’ll need to go somewhat high to clear the western edges of the Appalachian Mountains. Fortunately the freezing level should be well above your 9,000 foot cruising altitude.
There aren’t any Pilot Reports of icing except in the flight levels.
To get a more detailed view of the weather, it’s time to look at some METARs and TAFs. First, to get a big picture view of conditions, you turn on the visibility layer, which shows unrestricted visibility all over the Southeast.
Then it’s time for a look at the ceilings, which are marginal VFR to the west but still pretty clear over your route.
At your departure, conditions are good VFR. They’re forecast to stay decent for a few more hours before conditions deteriorate.
En route, the weather conditions seem to be pretty good right now.
At your destination, ceiling and visibility are both excellent, but the forecast for overnight certainly looks ugly.
As always, the decision isn’t a simple one. The weather map looks nasty, but there might be a window this afternoon to safely make the flight. Is that a good use of GA or tempting fate?
Tell us what you think: Would you fly the trip as proposed or would you cancel? If you would fly it, would you go VFR or IFR? Add a comment below.
Coming from an aviation family, John grew up in the back of small airplanes and learned to fly as a teenager. Ever since, he has been hooked on anything with wings and regularly flies a Citabria, a Pilatus PC-12 and a Robinson R44 helicopter. He is an ATP and also holds ratings for multiengine, seaplanes, gliders, and helicopters. In addition to being Editor-in-Chief of Air Facts, John is a Vice President at Sporty’s Pilot Shop, responsible for new product development and marketing.