Today’s flight is one you know well, since you’ve flown this route at least once a month for the last two years visiting your aging mother and father. It’s just under a two and a half hour flight in your Cessna 172S from Charleston, South Carolina (CHS), to Ocala, Florida (OCF). You are not instrument rated, so the trip will have to be VFR. The weather looks reasonably good, but there are a few cells on the radar and the wind is blowing. Read the weather forecast below and tell us if you would make the flight or cancel. Proposed departure time is 1400Z.
The radar is clear at your departure and destination, but en route there is some rain to investigate.
The surface analysis shows a fairly quiet picture in the Southeast, but a cold front is approaching from the northwest.
The prog chart shows the cold front moving into Georgia and Florida as the day goes on, with some scattered showers across the panhandle.
The 00Z chart shows a small area of rain over northern Florida, but no organized line of storms.
Radar and satellite
The southeast radar image shows more detail on the rain. There are some convective cells in southeast Georgia, and a small line in Alabama.
The infrared satellite seems to suggest no other organized cells, although perhaps some lower clouds further south.
The visible satellite image reinforces that theory, with some cloud cover in Florida.
The 3-hour cloud forecast map fills in the final details, with broken to overcast skies and relatively lower tops.
The freezing level is above 12,000 feet today and you’re flying VFR, so icing is not a concern. Turbulence might be an issue, though, given the wind speeds at the surface.
Convective weather is another concern, given the radar, but there are no areas on the short term convective forecast.
The cloud forecast suggests some lower layers in Florida, so it’s on to the METARs and TAFs. First is your departure, which shows good weather but a forecast for gusty winds.
En route, conditions seem to be generally good weather except around the areas of rain in coastal Georgia. A detour might be in order to avoid these marginal VFR conditions.
Your destination is clear of rain, but has a lower cloud deck. The forecast calls for that ceiling to lift by the time of your arrival, but the winds will be strengthening.
It’s time to make the call: go or no go? The weather is good VFR at your departure, and forecast to be that way at your destination. But right now it’s marginal at OCF and there are some scattered storms en route, not to mention the gusty winds. Add your comment below and tell us both your decision and how you arrived at it.