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.

AWC-GFA-tool

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Aviation Forecast Discussions

Like many pilots, I start watching the weather days ahead of planned trips. Unfortunately, the Outlook Briefings offered by Flight Service Stations and other official sources of aviation weather are about as useful as the tips you get from financial advisors (or bookies).

I much prefer the National Weather Service forecast discussions prepared by local NWS offices. These descriptions of current and forecast conditions, including outlooks, offer forecasters’ analysis and opinions of what the various computer models and observations imply about upcoming weather.

The easiest way to see the aviation forecast discussions for areas that interest you is via the map at the Aviation Weather Center. Click a region on the map, and up pops the text of the latest discussion. Of course, you must supplement the discussion with official reports and forecasts, all of which are available at the Aviation Weather Center, the Aviation Digital Data Service, via DUATS, and from Flight Service Stations. You can find an extensive list of weather and flight-planning links on the Aviation Resources page at my Web site, www.BruceAir.com.

To learn more about weather briefings and tools available to pilots, see Aviation Weather Services (AC 00-45F), available as a free download (.pdf) from the NWS. The General Aviation Pilot’s Weather Guide is another excellent portal to weather information.