HANG GLIDING WEATHER FORECASTING LINKS
We want to have fun when we fly, fly as often as it will be fun and burn the minimum amount of fossil fuel in the process, so how do we know when to go?
To do this we gather data that will encourage a smart decision to go or no go on a hang gliding adventure.
First look at the big picture, then more locally to have a good idea of what will happen over the day and the next few days. Resources that will help you know what to expect:
Animated map with fronts, highs, lows, and cloud cover.
Visible and infra red satellite views of the area illustrate movement of cloud cover headed your way.
More Big Picture Stuff : Winds and Temps with altitude:
The same site as above can get current conditions from airports. You can look at airport condition report to see how well the forecasts are matching what is really happening. The data can be read in an interpreted format.
Local Forecasts are useful for max temp surface winds, chance of rain and sometimes cumulus cloud cover.:
Soaring Forecast Resources:
The Blip Map, by Dr Jack, are quite useful once you study the explanations of the important variables. $20 a year for a year’s subscription.
NAM will forecast soaring conditions for today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. It has OK accuracy today, moderate tomorrow and only fair for 2 days out.
The RUC is the best source for today due to the rapid update cycle.
The NAM Regional viewer will give you a table forecast and a Skew T.
The RUC Regional Viewer will give you a spread sheet like forecast for several hours during the day and an interactive Skew T which will allow you to play with the graph and see winds with various altitudes, how hot it needs to get to cause cumulus clouds to form, how high will cloud base be and how thick will the clouds be.
XC Skies is a similar but more recently developed competitor of the Blip Map subscription service. It will lay a color coded map of conditions over a terrain map and with a click on a point give a three day graphical forecast, interactive SkewT and other useful information. I think it costs $40 a year.
XC Skies: http://www.xcskies.com/
You can get sequential, multiple hour, interactive SkewT forecasts by entering the coordinates of your site in the following manner, 35.21,-85.20 for the LZ in front of Henson’s Gap. This will let you see how the day develops with the Skew T helping.
Point Forecasts: http://www-frd.fsl.noaa.gov/mab/soundings/java/
If you study these resources and keep up with how your flying goes, then go back to review how accurate the forecast was, you will learn to be a good soaring weather forecaster, and save yourself a lot more than the cost of the prescription services in cost of gas on the bad soaring days, and it will get your out there soaring on some days you would have stayed home before understanding how to forecast the conditions.