After a beautiful early fall in Ohio, a cut-off low has installed itself over the southeastern United States and brought with it rain, storms, and IFR conditions. Flying conditions have been marginal all week, but you need to get to Nashville from your home outside Cincinnati, so you’ve been trying to pick the right time. It’s a two hour trip in your Cessna 182—is this the right time? Read the weather briefing below, then add a comment and tell us if it’s a go or a no-go for you. You are instrument rated and your proposed departure time is 1330Z.

Overview

The Map page in ForeFlight shows scattered rain and IFR conditions across your route of flight, but at least there’s not a solid wall of thunderstorms like there was yesterday.

The driving force behind all this weather is that cut-off low aloft. It’s been spinning over Missouri for days now.

The result is an ugly surface analysis, with a warm front and a stationary front draped across the Midwest and Southeast.

The prog charts suggest the weather might finally start to move east today, but only very slowly.

Even tonight, there is plenty of rain forecast along that front.

Radar and satellite

Step one today is to get a handle on that rain: is there any convection to watch out for? The Convective SIGMET map certainly thinks it’s possible, although there is only an outlook box along your route.

The regional radar shows fairly scattered rain around Cincinnati.

Closer to Nashville, it looks like the rain breaks up.

The infrared satellite image shows fairly thick clouds in Ohio, but nothing major in the western half of Kentucky or Tennessee.

Icing

It is early October, so it’s definitely icing season. There are some AIRMETs for in-flight icing, but they are at higher altitudes.

A look at the freezing levels shows a flight at your typical 8-10,000 ft. altitude should be above freezing.

The forecast icing product shows no threat at 11,000 feet (although it does start at 13,000).

Finally, the cloud forecast map offers some good news. Tops seem to be fairly low along your route, so it looks like you might get on top—especially closer to your destination.

Text weather

Your departure airport is showing pretty solid IFR conditions, but is forecast to improve.

En route, conditions appear to be pretty good VFR, with broken layers and no rain.

In Nashville, it’s marginal VFR and forecast to stay pretty much the same, although it should clear up later in the day.

Some pilot reports are also worth noting. They suggest the tops are right around your cruising altitude near Cincinnati.

Decision time

It’s time to make the call. Your goal was to get airborne during the morning, before any of the day’s heat can make those rain showers thunderstorms. Right now that looks to be the case, with mostly rain and layered clouds along your route. But will it stay that way? Does that front have any other surprises?

Add your comment below.

Latest posts by John Zimmerman (see all)
9 replies
  1. Low Wings
    Low Wings says:

    Once again, the choice of a route for this short hop would be a factor. Rather than drawing a straight line from Cincinnati to Nashville and encountering some heavier showers, head south toward Lexington and for another 50-75 miles, keeping the showers off to the right side of the aircraft. Then, when clear of the heavier stuff, head straight to Nashville in improving conditions! Be alert for carb ice along the way in the high humidity environment and enjoy the ride and debrief the trip after landing, listing what went as expected and what didn’t. Was there anything missed in the preflight plan that would have improved the flight if it had been taken into account?

    Successfully navigating flights so as to mitigate (avoid) the known risks in these types of weather conditions is key in that part of the country! The extra miles of a somewhat longer route is a small price to pay for better conditions!

    Reply
  2. Ray Owen
    Ray Owen says:

    Talk about timely.
    I am in Nashville today with perfect weather TODAY having just driving in from Cleveland Friday rather than flying my Grumman Tiger with basically the same performance as your C182.
    I’m my case the weather Friday was similar but worse than this scenario with 27 knot headwinds and part of the trip with the tops in the flight levels and lower clouds at my departures and arrival.
    If my weather was as per the scenario I definitely would have flown.
    In this case it looks like you have the extra range to make it to cloud free skys in wester Tennessee as plan C.
    I am interested to see what others have to say I may have missed something.

    Reply
  3. Steve Neun
    Steve Neun says:

    Surface analysis for me was the determining factor(s). Having lived in Memphis you could have unlimited ceiling and within one hour be closed off! It’s a no go for me and a long drive instead.

    Reply
  4. José Serra
    José Serra says:

    For me is a no go, mainly because the airports along the route simply didn’t appear to be adequate even for marginal VFR, and temps and dewpoints are very closer.

    Reply
  5. Larry Smith
    Larry Smith says:

    What the heck is wrong with this weather??? You could almost do this VFR (if you really knew the route). This is a no brainer… GO. Use your plane and get the utility out of it.
    If the weather were twice as bad, I’d still go.
    There is absolutely NO major risk for a reasonably competent pilot and plane. What the heck are you guys chickening out for?
    However, I won’t second guess you… do what’s best for you.

    Reply
  6. Charlie Kemp
    Charlie Kemp says:

    The wind from the SE may bring the weather back to Nashville . I am no go. If i was going i would fly west to clearer area and then to Nashville with weather that is slowly moving east.

    Reply
  7. Ray
    Ray says:

    I would go. Those winds aloft are high, but at 18K. I am going to fly this route much lower than that and if I need to shoot an approach, the ceilings are going to be marginal at the worst.

    Reply
  8. Richard
    Richard says:

    For a competent and proficient IFR rated pilot, this should be an easy flight. Plan to go direct and watch the NEXRAD. There are outs to the West for deviation as necessary with lots of airports to land if required.

    Reply

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