2 min read

You had hoped to get away earlier today, but business meetings have a way of running long and that’s exactly what happened. As a result, your proposed flight will depart Nashville, Tennessee (JWN), at 3pm local, or 2000Z, for a two hour and 30 minute flight to Shreveport, Louisiana (DTN). That’s not the ideal time to fly in the summer, but your Cirrus SR22T is well equipped, with a turbocharged engine and a glass cockpit—and you are IFR current.

Read the weather briefing below, then tell us if you would make the flight or cancel.


It’s summertime in the South, so it’s not surprising to see a few pop-up thunderstorms along your route. It looks like most of the action is near your departure airport.

Just like your flight instructor always said, you start with the big picture. The surface analysis shows no major weather systems in the south central part of the US.

The prog chart for this evening shows pretty much what the map on ForeFlight shows: scattered showers.

“Spend the night and go tomorrow morning” is often a good plan, although the prog chart for Saturday morning doesn’t look much better. If anything it’s a little worse.

As you would expect, there are plenty of Convective SIGMETs around.

Radar and satellite

Looking at the regional radar, it’s clear that thunderstorms are an issue around Nashville, although they look pretty scattered. Are there enough gaps in southern Tennessee?

The infrared satellite shows there isn’t too much beyond what the radar shows, which backs up the idea that there is no major frontal activity.

The visible satellite is helpful for showing where some of the lower level clouds are building, and there definitely are some for the first half of your trip.

Even though you’re IFR, staying out of the clouds may be the best option if you go. A look at the cloud forecast shows relatively low tops on eastern Tennessee, and scattered clouds in Arkansas.

Will icing be a threat at those higher altitudes? Probably not: the freezing level is above 15,000 feet along your route.

Text weather

That pretty much leaves text weather, and there’s not too much to see here. JWN is reporting good VFR conditions, and the TAF calls for nothing more than showers in the vicinity. Overnight conditions are forecast to drop to marginal VFR and stay that way through the next day.

Your destination is also reporting good weather and is forecast to stay that way.

Decision time

It’s time to make the call: file a flight plan and go flying or cancel and head to the hotel? The weather is fine at your departure and your destination, and much of the trip looks like it could be accomplished in VMC with no issues. But the first 100 miles look more challenging, with pop-up storms around. Can you deviate around them? Can you stay on top?

Add a comment below and tell us what you would do.

John Zimmerman
13 replies
  1. John
    John says:

    Go. Launch (maybe southeast to clear those cells) and find a VFR layer for the first 150mi. From the skew-t for that time would be a very solid bet by about 15,000 (easy for a -T) and likely much lower.

    Suggestion: it would be fun to have a PDF of the foreflight briefing for these trips (you can export from the app), that would make it super easy to mimic how we see the data for a real flight, and helps alleviate doing mental math around weather at arrival times, etc.

  2. Gail Hammans
    Gail Hammans says:

    I would probably go. The weather is leaving options both horizontal and vertical. Time of day the temp will start cooling off. Should be okay.

  3. Ken Martin
    Ken Martin says:

    I would go for the following reasons:
    a. The Cirrus easily has a 4+ hour fuel range – even after allowing for a good reserve near Shreveport – that allows quick deviations around the difficulties – with the SR22-T you should flight plan more than 10K-ft or higher seeking a majority of the trip on top
    b. These troublesome area certainly appear to be scattered sufficiently to allow reasonable deviations as needed

    I fly in Florida extensively which makes this appear as another summer day for IFR Florida pilots. On a recent trip from Savannah to Orlando, we ended up deviating westward for 100+ miles (as did most of the pilots that day) to stay in the reasonable weather.

  4. Jeremy C Bennington
    Jeremy C Bennington says:

    Go. I’d go to 18k or higher if ice and turbulence are not an issue. Avoid most of the weather and weave through the tops. That’s the benefit of a fully equipped aircraft. That mission gets a bit more challenging if limited to 10k.

  5. Jason
    Jason says:

    I say go. Who likes flying nothing but straight and level anyway?

    Seriously, there’s plenty of space to fly between the storms.

  6. Stephen W Dee
    Stephen W Dee says:

    I would go, and keep an eye on cloud tops, which were not mentioned here. Even with good radar, eyes on actual cells is always the best for cloud avoidance, even flying IFR. Timing to get out of the worst weather area before dark is also important for me, and it looks like sunset won’t be a factor for this flight. Make it a go, and utilized all those great aircraft capabilities and pilot skills you have developed!

    LARRY BAUM says:

    Assuming supplemental O2 on board, I’d file for high, but consider stopping in the mid teens depending on the winds as long as you’re above the haze layer. Flying below FL180 gives you the option of canceling IFR if ATC isn’t cooperative. But that’s probably unlikely. Plenty of outs on this one.

  8. José Serra
    José Serra says:

    I’ll go, but always filling a good plane B, C or even D. I understand that the Cirrus is an excellent plane, but we mustn’t forget that isn’t an “anticed” aircraft, the tops of clouds aren’t clearly indicated and, personally, I am not a pilot that consider adequate “scud running” actual and “visible” cloud cells that, eventually, our eyes and radar present us.

  9. roger webb
    roger webb says:

    I fly out of KELD. Thunderstorms here are never static so a factor for me is winds aloft. It looks like a route I would do is S to SSE to the Alabama border, then direct to KDTN. I am for staying VFR on top, or close to it. Around here you can usually pick your way around the worst the the worst, and there are plenty of stopover places to sit out deteriorating weather. And there is never a flight I have to make.

  10. Ross Allen
    Ross Allen says:

    Go. This is pretty typical afternoon weather in the Southeast, just ask for any needed deviations around buildups or cells early and often.

  11. Chris
    Chris says:

    Go and stay vfr. Plenty of airports to land and wait out a cell if needs be. This is a normal summertime flight in the southeast. If you don’t fly this you don’t fly much this time of year.

  12. charlie
    charlie says:

    I’ve made these types of flights. It’s a case of being willing to call it quits if the wx is unacceptable at some point enroute. I call my wife and tell her I’m headed for home, but may not see her tonight. I may have to put down due to the wx. I’d file ifr and definitely stay vfr maintaing at least 20 mile separation from any cells while requesting deviations as necessary. All the while, maintaining a close watch on nexrad and alternate airports.


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