Hello and thanks for reading the 24th edition of EZNews!
It is hard to believe, but it was two years ago on April 7th when EZWxBrief made its debut. We really appreciate those that have recently joined, renewed their annual membership or signed up for auto-renewal. A big thanks goes out to Diogo R. who renewed his annual membership for $100 and Paul S. who renewed for $169! We truly appreciate your generosity which helps support our continued innovation and growth moving forward. For members new to EZWxBrief, you won't find EZWxBrief in the App Store or Google Play Store. For the best user experience, EZWxBrief is optimized to run as a progressive web app (PWA) and must be installed on your device which takes less than 10 seconds per device. Follow the link above or see the 140+ page Pilots Guide for more information on how to install EZWxBrief as a PWA on all of your devices.
NWS Strategic Plan for 2023
Those in the weather business and aviation industry pay close attention to what is happening in the National Weather Service (NWS). If you haven't done so, here is a peek into the strategic plan for 2023. Although this is a very high level document, one of the more far-reaching plans is to provide better messaging to the public that is less confusing and is being called "hazard simplification." This is a fairly significant revamp of the messaging that has been around for many decades.
In this simplification the NWS is proposing the use of two primary headline terms, namely, “Watch” and “Warning.” They plan to discontinue the use of all “Advisory”, “Special Weather Statements” and “Short Term Forecast” headlines. Essentially, the “Watch” and “Warning” terms would only be used for major weather hazards that threaten life or property. If Watch is used then you should prepare for a potential significant weather event, but if Warning is used then you should take immediate action as there is an imminent weather hazard in your area. There are still more public comments being analyzed at this time, but you can read about the hazard simplification here.
We hear your feedback!
We are grateful for the feedback we have received from EZWxBrief members and continue to strive to make the app more user friendly and intuitive to use. At this point we have been working to build EZWxBrief v2.0 that will have a more intuitive user interface and will have better overall performance. This will take a few more months to develop and we hope to have a new major version of the progressive web app released by the end of this summer.
For example, below is a peek at the new route editor for version 2.0. It will allow you to quickly enter route of flight waypoints by using the Enter/Go or Space key after entering the identifier and will also provide the capability to intuitively reorder the waypoints and quickly insert new waypoints using a drag and drop feature. Also, the route itself on the EZMap will contain labels for the departure and destination airports along with labels for the route of flight waypoints. Lastly, it'll provide the option for you to open up the route to display it on the EZMap or within the EZRoute Profile. Currently the number of route flight waypoints is limited to five, and we are hoping to extend this to allow for more.
Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts - NWS versus military
If you live or fly in an area where there are military airbases, you will likely see a TAF that isn't issued by the National Weather Service (NWS), but one that is issued by one of the branches of the military. You may have noticed that in these locations where there's a nearby civilian airport where the NWS issues a TAF, that they can be quite different at times.
First and foremost, a TAF is a forecast for the airport's terminal area. That means it is only valid five statute miles from the center of the airport's runway complex. Although it is tempting, if you are not landing or departing from that airport or using it as an alternate, it shouldn't be relied upon for your preflight planning. In other words, it is not meant to be used as a zone or area forecast. This is true of any airport that has a TAF, not just those issued by the military.
Nevertheless, the military services use highly trained meteorologists to issue their own TAFs. They don't have much in the way of outside pressures. However, that is not true of the NWS where they can see pressure from the airlines or even the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). For example, the TAF for the Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT) is issued by meteorologists at the Greenville-Spartanburg Weather Forecast Office in Greer, South Carolina. Although the meteorologist on duty that issues the TAF always has the final say, the FAA encourages them never to issue a wind forecast with a direction of 090° or 270° for Charlotte Douglas. This is because the runways at KCLT are all oriented north/south and it becomes difficult from a planning perspective for the facility to know if they should be running a north or south operation.
But the one that frequently hits many of the high impact airports is a forecast for thunderstorms. It is not unusual to have the airlines pressure the NWS to limit a forecast for thunderstorms. This is due to the fact that if the TAF has a forecast for thunderstorms at the estimated time of arrival, the airline must file an alternate and carry extra fuel. So it is not unusual for NWS TAFs to show a forecast for showers in the vicinity (VCSH) or rain showers in the terminal area (SHRA) to cover the threat of convection without using TS or TSRA. In fact, it is not unusual for the NWS in Greer, South Carolina to get a phone call from the airlines asking them to quickly amend the TAF once that line of thunderstorms has rolled through and is no longer impacting the Charlotte Douglas terminal area.
As you might imagine, the military doesn't have any of these pressures since they don't have any commercial operations. So you will frequently see forecasts for thunderstorms in military TAFs where a nearby TAF issued by the NWS may not include a forecast for thunderstorms or may only contain a forecast for rain showers.
Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer
CFI & former NWS meteorologist