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Flying Weather in Colorado

West winds, overdevelopment, gust fronts, virga, high winds aloft... how can we safely fly in this invisible medium full of dangers?!

 

Flying in the Lee explains these hazards how to mitigate the risks. It also explains how to use most of the tools below. This is a must read for Colorado pilots!

Wind Stations

These "Live Wind Maps" give big-picture views and can be useful to monitor during long flights.

Optimized for use on the phone while flying.

The Forecasting Cycle

​These are some of the tools most commonly used to evaluate the flying weather. Though they might appear redundant, each one uses different weather models (or shows several), they update at different times, and they sometimes put a propriety spin on the data.

  • 0-10 Days: Wunderground 10-Day Forecast

    • Big picture: sun, rain, pre/post frontal.

    • Start figuring out which days to keep clear.

  • 0-5 Days: Windy 

    • Compare all the models, giving weight to the NAM & HRRR for near-term.

    • Review altitudes: surface, 6400ft, FL100 (10,000'), and FL140 (14,000').

    • Check different spots and zoom out to get a feel for how localized the conditions are

  • 0-5 Days: XCSkies

    • ​Use the Layers tool on the left to look at many versions of the map. The "XC Potential" is an uber-layer based on many variables that is the easiest way to get an idea if you can stay up.​

    • ​​Click on the map for a "PointCast" to get an idea of how the next few days look. Many useful sub-options here, and look at the different models.

    • Save your configuration as a "Favorite" for quick loading in the future.

  • 0-2 Days: Windgrams

    • Very cool visualization of the lift potential, inversion, and wind through the day.​

    • Often less accurate than other tools and the day-of forecast isn't published until ~11am.

  • 0​-2 Days: Skew-Ts

    • Drag the map around and click your location to view the Skew-T

    • Can also be found in Windy and XC Skies​

  • 0-1 Days: Area Forecast Discussion (AFD)

    • This text description can have surprising good nuggets of information for next-day and day-of planning.​

  • Day of: Live Wind Maps

    • Check this before driving over, at launch, and even in the air. Optimized for in-flight use on a phone. Save as a "home screen icon"​ next to your flight app so it's easy to open.

  • Day of: Some sites have stations at launch. See list above.

Deep Dives

XC Skies is incredibly powerful, especially as your XC ambitions grow.

Breaking apart the insanely complicated Skew-T chart from a pilot's perspective.

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