|Written by Don W. Day Jr|
|Sunday, 08 July 2007 11:38|
The goal of this weather section is to serve as a resource for balloonists looking for weather information as they plan their flight, long jump or just want to keep on eye on the weather as they plan their travels to the next race or balloon event. The information provided is intended to give balloonists access to weather tools and information to aid in their weather planning. As always it is up to the pilot to be as diligent as possible in obtaining the most up to date weather information available before flying.
Overview and discussion
As balloonists are well aware, it is all about the weather when comes to ballooning. Once a balloon leaves the ground it becomes a part of the weather. Therefore, the more a pilot has a grasp on his/her weather environment at both the launch site and where he/she may land, the more confident the pilot will be of what to expect weather wise during the flight and landing.
Words of Weather Wisdom -
"Understanding current conditions is the starting point, and the most critical part, of any weather forecast."
A good way to start getting a grasp on current weather conditions is by using the inverted weather triangle below. You want to get a handle on the weather by starting on the large scale (national weather) and ending on the small scale (your launch site). If you ignore the weather on a larger scale you may miss weather events and phenomenon (ie., thunderstorm outflow boundaries) that could affect your flight.
Gathering Weather Information
Most balloonists use some type of "weather sheet" to assist in gathering weather information. Most everyone has a sheet they are comfortable with. However, it is good sometimes to compare notes with other balloonists and what they have on their "weather sheet". In the next section below, there will is link to download a weather sheet that you can customize for your own use (in MS Excel format).
During the process of examining the weather from the large scale to the smaller scale, you will be able to identify where major weather systems reside (ie, fronts, areas of low pressure, high pressure, etc.) and the proximity of those weather features to your launch site.
The internet has been a godsend for balloonists. The amount of weather information available online is staggering and a great benefit to ballooning. Also, do not forget the ability of many cell phones and other wireless devices that can assist in bringing weather information to your fingertips at your launch site. However, one word of caution when it comes to weather information on the internet.
Remember this - ALL INTERNET WEATHER WEBSITES ARE NOT CREATED EQUALLY! Most weather websites automatically generate weather forecasts from databases and most of the time there is NO HUMAN interaction. There are several different weather forecast databases available for websites to use, so one website may differ from another in regards to what is forecast (ie, wind, clouds, precipitation, etc.). It is imperative that you add the human element (THE PILOT) to your weather preparation.
Stay up to date
The importance of having the most up to date weather information before launch cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes it can be one to three hours between your weather briefing and when you fly. The weather can change a lot in only an hour or two. Make that call to Flight Service just one more time from the launch site if you see something you don't like.
You can download the Weather Sheet here.
This weather sheet is designed to alert the pilot to potential RED FLAGS (ie, potential weather elements that may be a concern).
The sheet is comprised of:
Balloon Weather Links
There are thousands of weather websites available to balloonists. The list I provide below is by no means the final say on the best weather websites for balloonists. There are new websites coming online all the time. If there is a website you would like to suggest be added please let me know by sending in your suggestion (email@example.com).
Going back to our weather triangle above, remember to start your weather analysis on the large scale and work your way to the smaller scale. Let's start with the National Map below.
Weather Features and Education
The links below are to Power Point Presentations that touch on some of the weather topics above. Feel free to email any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the most popular presentations below is on thunderstorm outflow boundaries. See images and movies below.
Sioux Falls, SD - Outflow Boundary Radar Loop - Thunderstorm Outflow Power Point
Other Topics (all in Power Point)
|Last Updated on Sunday, 12 April 2009 21:14|