Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

The Graphical Forecasts for Aviation tool at the Aviation Weather Center is now operational. It supplants the text Area Forecasts in the lower 48, plus it offers more information about current weather. AOPA has published more news about the swtich to the GFA here.

For more detailed information about the GFA tool, see this description (PDF) and this tutorial.

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Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation

The Aviation Weather Center has released new Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation, described by the AWC:

The Experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation are designed to provide meteorological information equivalent to the textual Area Forecast (FA) in a graphical format, as requested by the FAA. This product includes observations and forecasts valid for the continental United States that provide data critical for aviation safety, overlaid on high-resolution basemaps. Please note that the text-based Area Forecast is still being produced.

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A tutorial on the new forecast is available here.

As FAA noted in a recent draft revision to  AC 00-45H, Aviation Weather Services:

The FA contains weather information in a format originally developed in the 1950s. By design, it carries a character count limitation and is prohibited from describing instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions over the CONUS and Hawaii (reserved for Airmen’s Meteorological Information (AIRMET) and significant meteorological information (SIGMET)).

While the FA met aviation weather information needs for many years, today the National Weather Service (NWS) provides equivalent information through a number of better alternatives. Plans are to discontinue the six FAs covering the CONUS and one FA covering Hawaii, which will then be replaced by digital and graphical products produced by the NWS. No near-term changes are planned for the FAs for Alaska, the Caribbean, or the Gulf of Mexico. (Appendix E)

You can complete a survey about the new forecast here.

Aviation Weather Center Updates

The National Weather Service has updated the design and features of its Aviation Weather Center website.

You can read about the changes here; background on the new design is here.

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Ceiling and Visibility Analysis Product from ADDS

The NWS Aviation Weather Center is releasing a new tool on 24 July, when the Ceiling and Visibility Analysis Product goes live on ADDS.

CVA presents simplified area maps of ceiling, visibility and flight category outlined as:

Ceiling estimates are displayed as:

(i) Possible Terrain Obscuration (pale orange) for ceilings less than 200 ft agl, (ii) less than or equal to 1000 ft agl (pale yellow) from 200 to 999 ft, agl, and (iii) 1000 ft agl or greater (pale blue).

Visibility estimates are displayed as:

(i) less than 3 miles (pale yellow), and (ii) 3 miles or greater (pale blue).

CVA is intended to accompany other aviation weather products such as METARS, AIRMETS, TAFs and Area Forecasts to help the general aviation pilot (particularly the VFR-only pilot) avoid IFR conditions. To remain current in rapidly changing conditions, CVA is updated every 5 minutes using the latest observations. The use of CVA should be followed by further examination of METARs, TAFs, AIRMETs, Area Forecasts and other weather information.

CVA primarily is intended to help the general aviation pilot; however, CVA’s quick-glance overview of ceiling and visibility conditions can be useful to others involved in flight planning or weather briefing.

CVA initially will be available only via the ADDS website at:

http://www.aviationweather.gov/adds/cv