Route overview
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4 min read

A two hour flight instead of a six hour drive through rush hour traffic—that’s what you’re hoping to pull off today, and that’s why you own an A36 Bonanza. After a week of work in Lake Charles, Louisiana (LCH), you are headed to Corpus Christi, Texas (CRP), for a long weekend and mini-family reunion. Now you just need the weather to cooperate, but at first glance it’s not a sure thing. Your Bonanza is well equipped with a glass cockpit, Garmin autopilot, and datalink weather. You are experienced in the airplane and IFR proficient, but since the rest of your family is already in Texas, it would be just you on the airplane. Proposed departure time is 1600Z—read the weather briefing below and tell us what you would do.


ForeFlight shows a lot of rain and some colorful METAR symbols along your expected route today, so it’s clear this won’t be a quick weather briefing.

Route overview

There’s not much to look at on the surface analysis—at least not yet.

Surface analysis

The prog chart for tonight shows rain, but the only organized system is a cold front off to the northwest.

12-hour prog chart

The prog chart for tomorrow morning (24 hours out) shows that cold front pushing through, but with rain hanging around.

24-hour prog

Radar and satellite

Step one today is to evaluate that rain—it’s mostly green, with a thin line of yellow west of your route.

Radar map

The infrared satellite shows plenty of clouds, and many of them seem to be thick along the Gulf Coast.

Infrared satellite

The visible satellite doesn’t add much detail today.

Visible satellite

The cloud forecast shows pretty high tops, so it’s unlikely you would be on top today. But at least the cloud bases are high for most of your trip.

Cloud forecast

Hazards: storms, ice, turbulence

Time for a look at the hazards. First up is convection, and there seems to be good news here. No Convective SIGMETs or outlooks anywhere along your route.

Convective SIGMETs

Icing also seems to be a non-issue today, which is a nice change for February. There are AIRMETs for icing, but they are all well above your typical cruise altitude of 6-9000 feet.


A quick check of the freezing level map confirms that you should be above freezing below 10,000 feet.

Freezing level

Turbulence may be another story. There are a number of AIRMETs, including a large one for the surface to 8000 feet. It’s technically north of your route, but it sure seems relevant.

Turbulence AIRMET

For more detail, you pull up the forecast turbulence map layer in ForeFlight. At 4,000 feet it seems to match the AIRMET, with bumps to the north of your route.

Turbulence 4000

At 8,000 feet it’s a similar story, but there seems to be more widespread turbulence.

Turbulence 8000

There are only a few pilot reports for turbulence anywhere near your route. First is an airliner that reported moderate chop between 6,000 and 11,000 east of Houston.

Turbulence PIREP

There’s another PIREP nearby that suggests some of those bumps are outside of the clouds. A regional jet reported cloud bases at 8,000 feet southeast of Houston, which matches the cloud forecast.

PIREP bases

The only other turbulence PIREP is closer to your destination, where a King Air reported moderate turbulence at 6,000.


Text weather

Lake Charles is showing good VFR right now, but the forecast is for worsening weather as the day goes on.

LCH weather

En route, the ceilings are pretty high and the winds are light, but rain is falling.

Weather en route

In Corpus Christi, it’s another story of METAR vs. TAF: it’s good weather now, but things will go downhill later in the day.

CRP weather

One other METAR is worth considering: about 30 miles west of your destination, rain has caused an 800 foot broken layer to appear.

ALI weather

Decision time

It didn’t look like a slam dunk at first glance, and it still isn’t. On the one hand, weather at your departure and destination is good VFR right now. It’s quite likely you could make most of the flight VFR, flying below a high overcast. There’s no ice and storms seem unlikely.

On the other hand, the TAFs are filled with lots of colors and it seems likely you’ll encounter some turbulence along the way. And is that weather report at ALI a sign of things to come?

Vote below to tell us what you would do, then add a comment with the details behind your decision.


Once you’ve voted and shared your reasoning, check the actual weather conditions at your ETA: route radar map and destination METAR. How do you feel about your decision?

John Zimmerman
22 replies
  1. Larry F Baum
    Larry F Baum says:

    A bit soggy, but doable. Well equipped plane and proficient pilot. Generally high ceilings and good visibility. The only real pause is some potential turbulence.

  2. James Scott
    James Scott says:

    I agree with Larry above. Convection and ice does not seem a problem and ceilings seem doable as well. Would have loved to see the Skew-Ts for points along the route for better understanding (and confirmation) of cloud layers, wind speeds and turbulence. Some concern about potential gusty winds at destination.

  3. Jim
    Jim says:

    I don’t think it sounds really bad if I am vfr I am not going I would be afraid That ceiling or visibility might get bad,if I am Ifr I don’t see a problem with it I don’t like to fly in this kind of weather becouse I just don’t find it fun I would rather just wait and let the weather get better

  4. Michael
    Michael says:

    I indicated I would go, but I probably needed to check “Other”. If going, go now and probably at 4K.

    I live on the route and fly it often. With my flight planning, I also consider the Categorical Outlooks along with the HI and LO SIG WX chart forecasts. For example, if the HISIGWX chart forecasts ISO EMB CBs on the route, I wouldn’t consider it. The surface analysis doesn’t show it (probably your “yet”), but the trough along the coastline will add “fuel to the fire” for possible development. The conditions at ALI, and the yellow precip west of BEA support this thought.

    I would also need to study route alternates closer, SW of GLS (VCT TAF, PKV MOS). Rain increasing in intensity might prevent diverting west, leaving little options and pushing your deviations offshore.

  5. Gulliver
    Gulliver says:

    How much more qualified could a private pilot be to fly in bumpy rain in a rock solid aircraft? I say “Go” and keep the windows rolled up.

  6. Rob Lyons
    Rob Lyons says:

    Its a Go. Bumpy and wet along the way, and lower ceilings expected at the destination, but no icing or cumulo-bumpus reported or forcast. Well equipped aircraft and current pilot. Good day for real in the clouds practice for IFR currency. Plus, plenty of back doors along the way if things change for the much worse.

  7. John Picker
    John Picker says:

    Definitely go. Why else do you have an equipped plane and current ifr. Lots of airports along the route and nothing severe. The worse that’s likely to happen is the bumps are more than you like….land and rent a car…you’ll be closer than you started.

  8. larry smith
    larry smith says:

    Go, this is not a difficult trip if you can stand a few bumps, which may or may not happen. A good part with be VFR, but I would file. There is NO nasty weather to stop this trip.

  9. Tim T
    Tim T says:

    Given the situation here it sounds very doable. The forecast is going to be a bit wet and not perfect, but definitely very doable. Go decision!


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