Updated: Aug 11, 2021
Hello and welcome to the 4th edition of EZNews!
We really appreciate all of those subscribers that have recently joined, renewed their membership or signed up for auto-renewal. This month there has been a lot of progress behind the curtain making the progressive web app faster, more reliable and responsive on smaller portable devices, especially the iPad and Android tablets. Those are being tested now and we'll be releasing those updates in August or September.
It was nice to meet many of you who stopped by the EZWxBrief booth at EAA's AirVenture this year and hear your feedback in person. We are very grateful for the multitude of positive feedback we have been getting in support of the EZWxBrief progressive web app. Here are just a few of the many new testimonials we've received in July.
"I'm really enjoying EZWxBrief. You've hit a home run! The presentation of weather data is so thoughtful, and organized to support my decisions on conducting a future flight. I need to do a certain amount of exploration in order to find data that is useful; the app supports exploration through its ease of use, logical layout, and robust integration — I don’t have to worry about paying a penalty while poking around. I especially like the information popups."
- Larry P.
"Just a quick look around the app definitely speaks to the depth of your effort here. I've already managed to touch many of the screens and it's very intuitive."
- Martin S.
"It really is quite easy to use. The map overview is excellent for getting the big picture and the time slider allows one to see how things may develop. The profile view is great for seeing what the conditions will be like by elevation along the route and to test what if scenarios for different departure times. The 12 red, green, yellow, & grey indicators for each departure choice do a great job of condensing a lot of information into a compact presentation. I find it very easy to see if my trip is facing challenges due to conditions at departure, or en route, or at arrival, for a wide range of departure times. Five stars from me on the 'high density of information' presented in a compact, meaningful, easy and quick to read display."
- Claude A.
"Thank you Scott. EZWxBrief is absolute gold! The more I learn from your videos and workshops, the more I love it…"
- James W.
"I used the WeatherSpork for a while, but it didn't seem to click for me. This [EZWxBrief] product is great. I love the setup with the static weather imagery and the plan a route with the personal mins grid saves a lot of time for a longer trip."
- Paul S.
And a special thanks for those who are spreading the word about the simplicity of EZWxBrief. Keep up the momentum!
In addition to these kind words of encouragement, we have also received many comments related to specific suggestions to improve the application. We love to hear your thoughts and already have many of these on the EZWxBrief roadmap. All of these are prioritized and are being added to the development queue. There's no doubt your feedback and comments will make the application even more robust in the coming months and years!
Were you previously a WeatherSpork user?
If so, your account has been migrated to EZWxBrief. For now, WeatherSpork continues to exist, but is no longer the preferred application with AvWxWorkshops. Consequently, both applications now have separate subscriptions and are managed by two different companies that are no longer associated. Nevertheless, you will retain access to both applications until your subscription expires. When that occurs, you will need to make a choice of what application to use. If you choose to renew with EZWxBrief, you can use the "Tell us what you want to pay" option to renew or renew for the standard price of $69/year. You can also set up EZWxBrief to automatically renew for the same price. Go to your user profile to set that up. We believe you'll find that EZWxBrief is more robust and has ground breaking features not found in any other application. For questions related to your WeatherSpork account you will need to reach out to their customer support.
The training side to EZWxBrief
EZWxBrief is not only a progressive web app that provides you with preflight weather, but it's also an application that provides weather training. There are nearly 80 bite-sized workshops in EZWxBrief library for you to review if you have an active membership. They usually are about 8 to 12 minutes long and cover many aviation weather topics, especially those that are usually not very well taught. You can also purchase one of the premium workshops such as the very popular Mastering the Skew-T Diagram. Premium workshops are yours to view as many times as you'd like even if your membership (or trial) expires. You will always be able to sign in and view that premium workshop.
Did you know that every Tuesday at 3 pm EDT, there's a brand new episode of EZWxChat? That's right, EZWxChat is a weekly program hosted by Dr. Scott Dennstaedt on Facebook live (https://facebook.com/ezwxbrief/live). Each episode is usually about 30 minutes long and covers a wide range of topics to include tips on how to use EZWxBrief as well as learning more about important aviation weather topics to add to your current knowledge. Those episodes are then uploaded to the EZWxBrief YouTube channel at a later date and reposted on the EZWxBrief Facebook page. If there's a topic you'd like to learn more about, send your thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll try to work it into the program for future episodes.
Reaching out to EZWxBrief support
The best way to reach us is to send an email through our Contact Us page on the EZWxBrief website. We usually respond to support requests within 24 hours, but often much sooner. Many customers also have other email addresses through AvWxWorkshops and Avwxtraining that you can certainly use to reach out to us, but if it's related to the EZWxBrief progressive web app in any way, we would appreciate using the support email so we can consolidate all of your feedback, questions and comments into our support tracking application. We appreciate your help!
Convective vs thunder potential
EZWxBrief distinguishes between convective potential and thunderstorm potential. That may seem odd to some pilots since most pilots associate convection and thunderstorms to mean the same thing. Yes, thunderstorms are a specific form of convection, but not all dangerous convection contains lightning (no different than a square is a rectangle, but not all rectangles are squares).
The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) defines a thunderstorms as…
“…a rain shower during which you hear thunder. Since thunder comes from lightning, all thunderstorms have lightning.”
This means that all thunderstorms begin as a rain shower. More important, not all rain showers grow up to be thunderstorms. The rain shower is just the beginning of the convective process. Therefore, it is possible that there may be a very high risk of convection for which most of the cells have no little or no lightning as shown in the convective potential time series graph below. In other words, the convective potential is very high, but the thunder probability is somewhat low (9% in this case).
The opposite can be true as well. Below is an example of a fairly high thunder probability (34% over an hour of time ending at 20Z), but very low convective potential. This essentially means that the chance of seeing deep, moist convection is pretty low overall, but if convection does develop, it will likely be deep enough to contain lightning.
This will also apply to the En Route Convective Potential EZMinimums shown below. That is, in EZWxBrief the personal minimum is directly related to the convective potential along the route of flight and not specifically tied to that fact that lightning may or may not exist (e.g., thunderstorm probability). The specific reason for this is that thunderstorm probability is often tied to other factors such as length of time and area of coverage. In other words, a 1 hour thunderstorm probability forecast of 15% within 10 miles of the route may see a bit low, but it's only looking at the "chance" of a thunderstorm to occur in a one hour time span and within a relatively small geographic coverage. Convective potential attempts to normalize this to provide a consistent forecast.
In the end, what you really want to pay attention to is the convective potential despite the thunderstorm risk. We often see forecasters at the local weather forecast offices issue a TAF that contains VCSH (showers in the vicinity) or SHRA (rain showers in the terminal area). Pilots tend to dismiss that as just some "sprinkles" or harmless rain event when, in fact, this is the forecaster's way of showing a high convective potential with a relatively low probability of lightning. It can also be used as a placeholder for potential thunderstorm event that has a high about of uncertainty.
What's new with EZWxBrief?
Preparing and attending AirVenture has kept us busy this past month and there are no major changes to the application at this point. Version 1.0.4 was released just prior to AirVenture and included bug fixes and a few "under the hood" performance enhancements. We are actively working on improving the user interface for smaller devices, specifically focused on the iPad at the moment. As mentioned above, we expect to see some improvements in this area later this summer. Please stay tuned.
Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer
CFI & former NWS meteorologist