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> Finding wind and weather..it all ADDS up!
skysurfr
post Apr 2 2004, 11:08 AM
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From: Chicago
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When considering the weather, usually we are trying to decide "weather or not" to drive to the water today. Bah dah bing!

One very useful resource is the ADDS service. This is the Aviation Digital Date Service. Here you can check the constantly updated weather that is made available to pilots. "The Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) makes available to the aviation community text, digital and graphical forecasts, analyses, and observations of aviation-related weather variables. ADDS is a joint effort of NCAR Research Applications Program (RAP), NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory (FSL), and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Aviation Weather Center (AWC). "

In more simple terms, you can check the forecast and current conditions at most larger airports on this website.

The catch is that you need to be able to decode the weather. Each product has it's own unique codes and terminology. This is done to dazzle non-pilots and make people say "Whoa! What the heck does all that say?" Actually, it's done because the weather is published all over the world and is used by pilots speaking many different languages.

Let's look at Muskegon Michigan's forecast TAF-Terminal Area Forecast.

KMKG 021138Z 021212 36008KT P6SM SKC
FM1500 01013KT P6SM SCT040 SCT250
FM1800 34015KT P6SM SCT050 SCT250
FM0200 36008KT P6SM SKC


That's a whopper of code, but easy to read when you break it down.

KMKG 021138Z 021212

KMKG is Muskegon Airport, the "K" is added to code you see on your bag tags for all airports in the lower 48 United States. You'll need to find the codes for the airports nearest you. KMKG, KGYY, KMDW, KORD, KMKE are the ones I use in Chicago...Muskegon, Gary, Midway, O'Hare, Milwaukee work pretty well.

Next you see the time stamp: 02 April issued at 11:38Z (GMT) Valid on the 02nd from 12:00GMT-12:00GMT. GMT is "world time", it's used so pilots don't have to pay attention to time zones and eliminated errors in forecasting arrival weather on very long flights. GMT-6= CST, GMT-5=CDT (-5, -4 in Michigan).

36008KT P6SM SKC

Here is the first bit of weather that is valid from the start of the forecast. 360 degrees at 8 knots + (better than) 6 statute miles visibility, Sky Condition Clear.

8 knots, NOT ENOUGH! However thats at 8am Michigan time, and who's up that early?

FM1500 01013KT P6SM SCT040 SCT250

From 15:00 GMT (10am) from 010 degrees at 13 knots, +6miles , scattered clouds at 040(oo) feet (4000ft) and another layer of clouds scattered at 250(oo) feet.

Now thats kiteable! 13 knots from the North, and we are headed for the south side of the pier!

You can play with the decoder available online and learn the TAF's for yourself and your local area.

What's the weather doing now?

Have a look at the METAR. That is a current snapshot of the weather, usually taken a few minutes before each hour. The format is similar to the TAF with a few little changes.

Again, enter the K-Code for your local airport....

KMKG 021455Z 35008KT 10SM CLR 09/M04 A3005 RMK AO2 SLP181 T00891039 50006

KMKG is Muskegon again, 02nd at 14:55z (GMT) 9:55am local time, 350 degrees at 8 knots, 10 miles visibility, clear sky, 9 degrees C, dew point -4 C, Altimeter setting 30.05, the rest are remarks for special use like Sea Level Pressure (SLP) . There can also be some remarks here that are useful like RB/RE Rain Began with a time, and Rain Ended with a time.

Again, you can decode these on the website for your local airports and area.

Also available is a JAVA based Map tool for the METARS. You can highlight over all of the Great Lakes area and get all the wind readouts at once in a nice graphic format. Take some time to explore this feature, it's a very powerful wind tool. It makes finding the approaching wind line very easy.

There are several other tools available in the site. In fact this is one of the sources your local weather person uses to create the forecast for radio and television. You can view radar look at PROGnostication Charts and also the winds aloft. Finding wind at 35,000 feet won't be of much use to us even with 100M lines.

http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov is the link to the ADDS Home page.

Also here is a text file for all the airport codes:

http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/metars/stations.txt

If you were wondering,

PHOG 021454Z AUTO 05007KT 10SM FEW070 21/19 A3003 RMK AO2 SLP173 T02110194 55005 TSNO

PHOG 021129Z 021212 03008KT P6SM FEW025 SCT050
TEMPO 1216 SCT025 BKN050
FM2000 05018G25KT P6SM FEW035 SCT050
FM0600 06012KT P6SM SCT050


PHOG is Maui!

Mike Urban
Naish Midwest Team
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jlatino
post Apr 14 2004, 02:06 PM
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Sweet!
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