Hello and thanks for reading the 23rd edition of EZNews!
As EZWxBrief comes up on its two year anniversary in April, we really appreciate those that have recently joined, renewed their annual membership or signed up for auto-renewal. A big thanks goes out to Jim R. who renewed his annual membership for $75 and Randy M. who renewed for $100! 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.
GOES Derived Cloud Products (GDCP) have been discontinued
As of February 24th, the GOES Derived Cloud Products or GDCP that are hosted in the EZWxBrief static weather imagery have been discontinued by the source. As a result, these have been removed from the imagery and are no longer available. Currently there are no plans to replace these products. If you have any of these saved as a favorite, you will be asked to remove the GDCP from your favorites if you try to visit those links.
Twin & Turbine article about EZWxBrief
Back in August, Brian Sagi interviewed Dr. Scott Dennstaedt to learn more about the background of the EZWxBrief progressive web app. That resulted in him writing this article that appeared in a recent issue of Twin & Turbine magazine. Thank you Brian for your informative piece about EZWxBrief!
The Daily EZ Weather Brief one year anniversary
It was a year ago on March 1, 2022 that we launched The Daily EZ Weather Brief. It has been nice to hear all of the positive feedback over the last year to those that tune in regularly. The goal of this daily program is to provide general aviation pilots and other stakeholders in the aviation community with a quick weather overview of that day's weather impacts across the conterminous U.S. and southern Canada. Therefore, if you have a flight planned sometime during the week, we hope you will take a few minutes and tune in to learn more about how to interpret the weather guidance provided in EZWxBrief.
How can you watch? If you get up early, the actual broadcast will be live on the EZWxBrief YouTube channel (https://youtube.com/@ezwxbrief) beginning around 7:30 a.m. eastern time (assuming there are no technical glitches). If you have not done so already, please take a moment right now to subscribe to the EZWxBrief YouTube channel at https://youtube.com/@ezwxbrief and turn on this channel's notifications to be reminded of the live event when it happens. With a few exceptions for illness, holidays and travel, there will be a live broadcast every Tuesday through Friday morning with Friday's broadcast offering a brief weather outlook for the weekend. Any changes to the daily schedule will be posted on the EZWxBrief YouTube community page. If you miss the live broadcast, no worries. The video will be recorded and published on the EZWxBrief YouTube channel shortly after the live program ends.
Here's where we need your help! For now, there's no fee to view this broadcast or watch any of the recorded videos. Right now the number of views rarely exceed 100 each day. It would be awesome to see thousands of pilots tuning in every day given the valuable content this program provides. If you are enjoying these daily videos and want to keep them free to all who may want to watch, please post a link on your social media accounts, forums and other outlets as well as sending a quick email to all of your pilot friends who you believe will benefit. If you have any specific feedback, praise or other constructive ideas, please feel free to contact us. We'd love to hear from you.
Please understand that this daily weather overview is being offered for educational and entertainment purposes only and does not substitute as a formal weather briefing for a route of flight as required by 14 CFR § 91.103.
We hear your feedback!
We are grateful for the feedback we have received from 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 many more months to develop and we hope to have a new major version of the progressive web app released by the end of summer. For example, you'll see a new forecast radar layer from the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) that will be overlaid on the EZMap like you see below. It will be tied to the departure advisor and provide a forecast with a lead time out to 48 hours with 15 minute intervals through 18 hours and a one hour interval through 48 hours.
Going to SUN 'n FUN this year?
EZWxBrief won't have a booth at SUN 'n FUN this year, however, Dr. Scott Dennstaedt will be traveling to Lakeland, Florida and holding three presentations as shown below. This year we were able to once again secure the large room (CFAA-01) on the first floor which also serves as the school's cafeteria. There should be plenty of room available if you want to attend. While we do not expect changes, you can view the forums schedule here for the latest and greatest schedule. Just put in Dennstaedt in the top right Search field and you'll see a listing of the three presentations. Also, stop by the SiriusXM tent on Tuesday and Wednesday. Scott will be hanging out there from time to time to answer any questions you may have. Hope to see you there!
Do ceilings really matter for IFR flight?
It's a question that seems to come up a lot in aviation. Should pilots flying under IFR even care about the height of the clouds above the airport’s elevation when departing or arriving at the intended destination? It's not uncommon to hear an instrument pilot say something like, "I don't have personal minimums for ceiling height." Or, "ceilings are not relevant, visibility is what counts." Yes, specifically for Part 91 operators when flying an instrument approach, the only thing that does ultimately matter is flight visibility...not surface or ground visibility or even runway visual range (RVR) since these visibilities are based on ground sensors and not what the pilot sees from the cockpit as cues to positively identify the runway or airport environment.
Every instrument approach performed by a Part 91 operator has a visual segment. At this point the pilot must confirm they are in a position to make a landing or maneuver to make a landing using only visual references. Typically, it is the ceiling height that will mark the start that visual segment. That is, it creates the first opportunity that the pilot can start to acquire those required visual references outlined in the FAA regulations and maneuver around any close-in obstacles that may be charted (or not) on some standard instrument approaches. So, ceiling matters immensely. After all, if you are in the clouds on the approach and have not descended below the lowest broken or overcast cloud base, the flight visibility is going to be near zero anyway even if the surface visibility below the cloud deck is unlimited.
While visibility is the ruling authority when it comes to flying an instrument approach, visibility and ceiling height should always be part of your preflight briefing. In fact, it's a huge mistake to leave out or not care about ceiling height as a personal weather minimum...especially when the approach is at night or during a precipitation event or when a circle-to-land is required. In fact, one could argue that ceiling height is more likely to be the controlling factor given that many marginal VFR and IFR condition ceilings at an airport will have a VFR category for surface visibility below the clouds. Of course, Part 91 operators are always allowed to fly any instrument approach, even one that is below the published minimums to do a “look and see” and ultimately fly the missed approach if the flight visibility doesn't meet the prescribed minimums.
Circling at a busy, non-towered airport in marginal weather adds a significant amount of risk. This includes the potential of a midair collision with VFR aircraft or exposure to a controlled flight into terrain (CFIT) accident. Even though you can circle to land at the published circling MDA, it's always better to use the traffic pattern altitude when it is higher especially for faster turboprop aircraft. If a circle-to-land approach is the plan, make sure you increase your personal minimums for ceiling and/or visibility for your destination. This will give you the opportunity to lower your risk. Whether you can use the higher altitude will more likely depend on the ceiling and not the visibility.
Lastly, visibility can be incredibly difficult to forecast. A single precipitation event can lower flight visibility to below minimums even when the forecast looks promising. The prevailing surface visibility may be 5 or 6 statute miles, but a brief shower passing through the terminal area can easily lower the visibility to 1 statute mile or less. At airports that are served by a TAF, a TEMPO group can be added to warn about such an event. However, when looking at the forecast for an airport without a TAF, it is difficult, if not fundamentally impossible to predict such occurrences. Most heavyweight apps do not employ a conditional ceiling and visibility forecast. At this point in time, that is also true of the EZWxBrief progressive web app.
Most pilots are weatherwise, but some are otherwise™
Dr. Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer
CFI & former NWS meteorologist