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December 2023 EZNews

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

Hello and thanks for reading the 32nd edition of EZNews!

We really appreciate those that have recently joined, renewed their annual membership or signed up for auto-renewal. A big thanks goes out to Greg J. who renewed his membership for $75, Keith A. who renewed for $99, Paul S. who renewed for $100 and Daniel W. who renewed his annual membership for $120! 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 to the blog post above or see the 140+ page Pilots Guide for more information on how to install EZWxBrief as a PWA on all of your devices. Also check out our playlist on YouTube for some helpful videos on how to use the various features found in EZWxBrief.


> Weather Essentials for Pilots class now open for registration!


Starting Monday, January 8, 2024, a new twelve-week basic aviation weather course called Weather Essentials for Pilots will begin and registrations are now being accepted. This unique live class will be taught exclusively by Dr. Scott Dennstaedt. Just to set your expectations, think of this as an Aviation Weather 102 class. In other words, the course isn't designed to overwhelm you with a ton of advanced meteorology concepts. At the other extreme, don't expect the class to be a bunch of lessons on how to decode a raw METAR, TAF or PIREP like you may have received during your primary training as a student pilot. Moreover, it is not meant to teach you how to use the EZWxBrief progressive web app or any other of the heavyweight EFBs; nor will it provide instruction on how to interpret a Skew-T log (p) diagram. Instead, the bulk of the lessons will focus on building the necessary foundation to get the most from the essential weather guidance that all pilots should be using to make more confident decisions prior to closing the door on the cockpit to depart.


In a nutshell, this 12-week course is specifically directed at certificated private/commercial pilots, flight instructors and designated pilot examiners who feel their aviation weather knowledge is significantly lacking. It is open to pilots with and without an instrument rating. Putting it succinctly, this is meant to be a slight notch above a beginner level. For most attendees, 20% of the material will be a review of basic aviation weather topics and the other 80% will be new or untaught material to focus on the gaps of knowledge present with most certificated pilots.


Below are some of the topics that will be presented during the course with a deep dive (sometimes in the proverbial weeds) to master the proper interpretation of the essential weather guidance available to pilots prior to a flight.


Observational guidance

  • Surface observations

  • Pilot weather reports

  • Ground-based radar

Advisories

  • Graphical AIRMETs (G-AIRMETs)

  • SIGMETs

  • Center Weather Advisories (CWAs)

Forecast guidance

  • Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs)

  • Area Forecast Discussions (AFDs)

  • Surface analyses and prog charts

  • Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPF)

  • Probability of precipitation (PoP)

  • Convective outlooks from the Storm Prediction Center (SPC)

Model-based guidance

  • Forecast radar

  • Forecast echo top heights

  • Probabilistic thunderstorm forecasts

  • Model output statistics (MOS)

  • Current and Forecast Icing Products (CIP/FIP)

  • Graphical Turbulence Guidance (GTG) Product

  • Constant pressure charts

...and more.

The class will start promptly at 8 pm eastern time on Mondays beginning on January 8, 2024. Each session will last 60 minutes with 15-20 minutes added to allow for questions and spillover (a total of 75-80 minutes). The sessions will be held using Google Meet and each class will be recorded and a personal link to the recording will be provided to you the following day. Therefore, it is not mandatory that you attend each live class to get the most from the 12-week course. The class size will be limited to allow for some Q&A during each session.


> What is the cost and how do I register? <


The cost of the class is $395 for each attendee (no refunds will be given once we've accepted your registration). Two books will be recommended, but are optional. These can be purchased prior to class (please allow 7 days for delivery).



Tap or click on the link above if you'd like to register for this course. We currently have enough early registrations for this class to be held. Please note that a waiting list will be started once the class reaches maximum capacity - so register today to secure a seat in this unique aviation weather course for pilots. After registration you should receive an email with the details on how to join each session.


> Give the gift of knowledge this holiday season


'Tis the season for giving...so, this is your chance to give the gift of education. Looking for a great holiday gift for your instructor, hangar mate, spouse or other pilot friend? Get them the most up-to-date book on aviation weather available today, The Skew-T log (p) and Me: A Primer for Pilots.


A thermodynamic chart such as the Skew-T log (p) diagram is the best kept secret in aviation. This primer is the most comprehensive resource available for general aviation pilots who want to leverage its use as supplemental weather guidance for preflight route planning. Specifically, the Skew-T log (p) diagram allows you to “drill down” over a particular location to identify or describe adverse weather better in time and space than any other single chart or diagram. Most importantly, when you learn how to read a Skew-T diagram, you will also be learning the basic principles of weather.


To purchase, simply visit https://avwxtraining.com/skewt and choose the soft cover version. When checking out, enter the promo code CYBER2023 and click Apply to see the $15 discount as shown below. Allow 7 - 10 days for delivery. Please understand that orders placed after December 15th may not received prior to December 23rd. This exclusive offer expires December 17, 2023. So get your order in early.



> "Who's who in Aviation & Weather" YouTube series continues...


We had a great time chatting with Gary Reeves of PilotSafety.org in our latest "Who's Who in Aviation & Weather" series. You can view this 30 minute video with Gary. Gary is a full-time flight instructor specializing in IFR procedures and how to get the most from your avionics. We asked Gary about how he got into aviation and what his most unique challenges are as an flight instructor that specializes in avionics training in the IFR world.


This new YouTube program will bring you the latest news and insights from the top minds in the aviation and weather industries. With a focus on weather, each month we'll feature interviews with leading experts on topics such as air traffic control, flight safety, forecasting, flight instruction and more. We'll also explore the latest trends and developments in these fields, and provide you with the information you need to stay ahead of the learning curve. So join us every four to six weeks as we explore the latest news and trends in these two fascinating industries.


Stay tuned for our next live program on Tuesday, December 5th at 3 pm EST. We are very excited to be talking with John Zimmerman, President of Sporty's. John is perhaps one of most knowledgeable pilots when it comes to weather planning and flies both fixed wing and helicopters including a glider and sea plane rating. He is also the editor-in-chief for the Air Facts Journal. We are looking forward to hearing John's take on what it takes to be a successful pilot in today's climate and ask him about the best selling item during the holiday season at the Sporty's Pilot Shop.


On the schedule for early January, we'll be talking with Max Trescott of Aviation News Talk on Friday, January 5th at 12:30 am EST to get his perspective on aviation training in glass cockpits. We'll also be talking with other industry experts next year to include Mark Robidoux of PilotWorkshops.com and Julie Boatman, editor-in-chief of FLYING magazine.


> How to watch <


The program will be hosted live on EZWxBrief's YouTube channel. If you cannot attend live, the episodes are recorded and will become available on the same channel shortly after the live broadcast ends. You can also find them in the Who's Who in Aviation & Weather playlist. The exact date and time for future episodes will be announced through this blog and will appear on the EZWxBrief YouTube community page.


> More static imagery retired


On December 1, 2023, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) has retired their version of the Current and Forecast Icing Products (CIP/FIP). These provided some very unique analysis products to include the Icing Scenario and Liquid Water Content and other icing analyses and forecasts at 1,000-foot intervals. Consequently, these plots have been removed from the EZWxBrief static imagery. Once the next release of these products becomes available from NCAR (year or two away), they will be added back. Note that these do not affect the basic CIP/FIP products scraped from the Aviation Weather Center website. They are still available as static weather imagery collections at the lower 2,000-foot vertical resolution.


> Airframe icing severity and clean clouds


It is common in November and December to see pilots reporting airframe icing much higher in the atmosphere (above FL180) that is outside of convective activity. For example, below is a severe icing pilot weather report from the crew of an Airbus A320 at FL230. The temperature was reported to be -20°C at 1427Z over the LRP VOR near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

In the same location there was another moderate-severe icing pilot weather report from a Canadair Challenger 350 crew at FL210 at 1411Z shown below also with a temperature of -20°C.

This prompted the Aviation Weather to issue the icing SIGMET below issued at 1442Z. Notice in the text it states "RPTD BY A320" which means the urgent report from the Airbus influenced forecasters to take a closer look and issue a SIGMET warning pilots of the potential for severe airframe ice from 15,000 to 23,000 feet MSL. As stated in the SIGMET text, severe icing conditions were expected to end by 1841Z.

In fact, the Airport Wx meteogram from EZWxBrief v2.0 (to be released in early 2024) shows some interesting icing forecasts for the Lancaster Airport (KLNS) at 15Z. It shows the potential for moderate to heavy ice from 15,000 feet to 23,000 feet with the tops around 25,000 feet. So both pilot weather reports above were near the tops of this icing layer at 15Z.


The most revealing aspect of this though is the high resolution isotherm forecast in EZWxBrief. Notice that the isotherms are generally packed pretty close together above 12,000 feet. Below that, they have a fairly large spacing, especially between the -4°C and -6°C isotherms at 15Z. This implies that the temperature isn't changing as rapidly with height (lower lapse rate) below this icing layer.

Although this is evident on the vertical profile view in the EZWxBrief v2.0 meteogram, it can be better seen on a Skew-T log (p) diagram as shown below. Using the Skew-T you can quickly drill down and see the nearly isothermal layer from 5,000 feet through 13,000 feet MSL. Isothermal means that the temperature does not change temperature with height. In this case the lapse rate was approximately 0.5°C/1,000 feet over a span of 8,000 feet (follows the saturation mixing ratio line in gray). This matches the distinct separation of isotherms in the profile view above.

Why is this important? Well, with such a stable layer below this cloud deck, that likely extends from 7,500 feet to the tops around 25,000 feet, it is hard to get ice and condensation nuclei up into the clouds, especially at the tops. Stable air prevents the atmosphere from mixing (good for decreasing turbulence potential, but bad for icing). This means that ice nuclei, that are more prevalent near the surface, cannot mix up into the cloud to allow supercooled liquid water to freeze onto these ice nuclei. Since supercooled liquid water needs a nucleation event, the fewer ice nuclei keeps the clouds with a higher liquid water content down to much colder temperatures. Moreover, condensation nuclei are also likely fewer in number creating a situation where cloud droplets can grow to larger sizes. In a nutshell, cleaner clouds courtesy of this nearly isothermal layer is a guaranteed moderate to severe icing hazard, especially near the cloud tops.


> EZWxBrief version two update


We hoped to have EZWxBrief v2.0 completed by the end of fall 2023. But it appears that the release won't likely happen until the end of January at the earliest. We are waiting for the NWS to make some major upgrades to a few of their products that are used by the EZWxBrief algorithms. Those upgrades are expected to occur sometime in December. Those changes will likely require additional modifications to the new app (they should not affect the current version). Once we've thoroughly tested the app with these changes, we will release v2.0 at that time.

Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™


Dr. Scott Dennstaedt

Weather Systems Engineer

Founder, EZWxBrief™

CFI & former NWS meteorologist






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