At the end of a long week of work with a customer in northwest Arkansas, it’s time to fly home for a relaxing weekend with the family. One of the perks of owning your own company is that you get to fly yourself on many such trips, using your 1978 Cessna 182. That makes it an easy one hour and fifteen minute flight (ROG to PWA). The skies are cloudy as you drive to the airport, but the weather looks good overall. Read the weather reports below, then tell us if you would fly this trip. You’re not instrument-rated, so this trip will be VFR. Estimated time of departure is 2130Z.
The route in ForeFlight looks pretty clear, with green METAR circles and just a few scattered showers near Tulsa.
The surface analysis shows very little in the middle of the country, with a large high sitting over the Upper Midwest and a low pressure system far to the northwest, over Wyoming.
The prog charts show a weak line of rain near the middle of Oklahoma, but it’s fairly thin:
The forecast for tomorrow morning shows more serious rain, but it’s almost all to the north of your route.
Since you’re VFR today, the satellite imagery is important. Is there a gap in that line? Are the clouds thick? A look at the color infrared layer in ForeFlight shows a pretty wide gap:
A look at the visible satellite may offer more detail. First you look at the map layer in ForeFlight:
Next you examine the actual visible satellite image, which does show some building clouds near Tulsa.
Even in October, thunderstorms are a concern in Oklahoma, so it’s worth a look at the convective SIGMET map. While your route does not have any SIGMETs, there is an outlook:
The convective forecast product for later this evening shows the chance of storms, but far to the west of your route.
There’s no major front, but there are some clouds to consider. That means METARs and TAFs are the last key piece of the puzzle. At your departure airport, skies are overcast but visibility is excellent and the winds are light. If anything, conditions are forecast to improve after sunset.
En route, Tulsa is reporting good weather but the METAR does warn of towering cumulus in all quadrants.
Closer to Oklahoma City, Cushing is reporting good VFR skies, although there is a scattered layer at 2800.
Finally, your destination shows great VFR and is forecast to stay that way until tomorrow morning.
It’s 4:30pm on a Friday, and you’d love to get home. In the 182 that means a short flight, but you would never sacrifice safety for convenience. If you have to drive, it’s only 4 hours so you have a backup plan. The weather at your departure is pretty good, and the weather at home is excellent. The only question is en route: is there a path through the building cumulus near Tulsa? Is there an out if you don’t find a hole?
Add your comment below and tell us what you would do.