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How NOT to teach weather

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Pilots must master many disciplines as they learn to fly. Weather is perhaps one of the most difficult disciplines to master. So it's quite important to teach it right the first time. But I often run into way too many poor examples of online weather training that is not only bad, but potentially dangerous. Here's yet another example from AOPA.

I received an email from AOPA that linked to a program called the Thunderstorm Challenge. It is developed by the Air Safety Institute. I typically like to go through these to see how others are teaching certain weather topics. Well, I got to this slide above and stopped. There are so many problems with this slide alone that it really shows how little they understand basic weather principles.

First, they mention "humidity" but do not tell you what kind of humidity. Yes, there are multiple kinds of humidity that include absolute humidity, specific humidity and relative humidity as you can read here. That's the least of the issues though. I assume they are referring to relative humidity. If so, the statement they make...

" early in the morning when temperatures are cool, and humidity is relatively low. As the day progresses and heat and humidity increase, the chance of a pop-up storm also increases." just the opposite of what actually happens. They appear to be conflating relative humidity with dewpoint temperature. Relative humidity is not a true measure of how much moisture is in the atmosphere. In Minnesota on a cold winter morning the relative humidity might be 100%, but in southern Florida on the same day the relative humidity could be