06 July 2005

Meteorologists and Used Car Salesmen

I've been flying for pay since 1968.

Weather is important to anyone that aviates.
In my opinion, being a weatherman puts you in a group that is paid well for being wrong about as often as you are right!

Great improvements have been made in the way we get weather information..........just not in forecasting!

Weather forecasters are EXCELLENT in predicting weather 5 hours out. They are FAIR at predicting it 12 hours out. Beyond that, we are in "Dartboard" territory!

Last night is a good example........
At our EMS base, we have the latest weather improvement: a "Meteorologix" terminal we can go to and look at radar returns, satellite views, terminal forecasts, and current surface analysis for any airport that reports these things.

Where we used to have to call the Flight Service Station and talk with a forecaster in order to determine whether we could take a flight, we can now find the information we need right on our desktop.

Last night, forecasters were predicting marginal VFR (flyable, but not pretty), weather all night long.

I dutifully report this fact to the dispatchers, so they know if I need to do a detailed weather check each time they dispatch us.

Two hours after I told them I'd be able to take any flight, I went outside to see low scuddy clouds overhead. I went back inside to check the current conditions:
800 feet Broken, 5 miles visibility, temperature 22, dewpoint 22.

The 800 foot Broken is the problem here, followed by the 22/22 temperature-dewpoint readings. Our night limitations are 1000' ceilings for cross-country flights. We are also limited to better than 3 miles visibility, so the 5 mile reading was fine, but the 22/22 reading meant the vis. was likely to degrade as the night progressed and got cooler.

Another old aviation "saw":
"It's better to be on the ground wishing you were airborne, than to be airborne wishing you were on the ground."

I went to the phone and called dispatch.........."we are now Yellow for weather".

I went to bed at Midnight, knowing that it was unlikely I would fly the rest of the night.

E.M.S. means "Earns Money Sleeping"!

The forecasters were wrong on the forecast.

I got paid last night for checking the inside of my eyelids!

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