Sometimes it feels like Mother Nature has access to your Flights tab on ForeFlight: it sees your planned trip and places a front right across your route. That’s what today looks like a first glance, as a solid line of rain stretches from Maine to Texas—right in the middle of your planned Atlanta (FTY) to Memphis (MEM) trip. Your Cessna 182 is well-equipped with an autopilot, datalink weather, and a glass cockpit, and you’re both instrument rated and current. Is that enough? Read the weather briefing below and then tell us if this flight is a go or a no go. ETD is 1430Z.
The flight today will take two hours and ten minutes, with just a five-knot headwind flying northwest, but the radar shows plenty of rain and the METAR symbols show lots of red and pink.
It’s no surprise that the surface analysis chart shows a stationary front over northern Georgia, roughly lining up with the rain.
You’ve seen this episode before, as a front stalls out over the Southeast, and it looks like that might happen again. The prog chart for this afternoon shows rain and scattered storms across a large area.
Even tomorrow morning looks to be rainy and IFR, although the front is slowly moving southeast.
Radar and satellite
With the big picture in mind, it’s time to look harder at the rain across your route. The regional radar suggests it’s mostly just rain, but there are some heavier spots to the north that warrant attention.
You know there are clouds and rain, but are there storms embedded in that front? If so, that can quickly derail a flight. Sure enough, there is a convective SIGMET over northern Georgia.
The Extended Convective Forecast Product, valid later this afternoon, shows some potential storms, but south of your flight.
Ice and turbulence
The other threat to consider when the clouds are this widespread is icing. It’s early April, so while not the heart of icing season it is worth checking. There is an AIRMET valid during your flight for icing, but it appears to be mostly above your typical cruise altitude.
The best news is that you should be above freezing level as long as you don’t go too high.
The icing forecast backs this up, with no icing below 10,000 feet.
For a more real time look at conditions aloft, PIREPs are always an essential tool. First up is a report right near your departure airport. It shows bases at 1300 feet and tops at 13,000 feet, with a smooth ride and no icing.
Finally, it’s time to review the weather at the surface. Your departure airport shows marginal VFR weather, and it should stay that way until tonight, when storms roll in.
En route, there is everything from low IFR (along the first third of your flight) to marginal VFR (closer to your destination). There’s definitely rain out there, although so far at least the visibility is good.
At Memphis the weather appears to be quite good and forecast to stay that way. Finally some VFR!
That’s the story according to ForeFlight. You’ll be crossing a weak front, flying in clouds and probably some rain. It’s marginal VFR at your departure and good VFR at your destination, but with plenty of IFR conditions in between. You will probably be below icing, but storms are a potential threat. Is it a go or a no go? Add your comment below and explain your decision process.