When it comes to flying, as pilots we use a variety of weather resources for planning a flight whether it’s a long distance cross-country or a local, touch-n-go lesson. With the introduction of XM and FIS-B, (Flight Information Service – Broadcast) weather receivers such as the GXM 40, GDL 39, or GDL 88, obtaining weather data in-flight is even more affordable, accessible, and easy to use!
Beyond the hardware, how we interpret each weather product is an essential piece in determining our “go” or “no-go” decision. With over 120 US METAR abbreviations, it’s no wonder some of us look at a report from time-to-time in bewilderment.
Luckily, our Garmin products will often decipher many of these weather products for us in the event we’re stumped! Check out one portion of a METAR I saw while using Garmin Pilot this week in Shreveport (KSHV):
OCNL LTGICCG ALQDS TS ALQDS MOV SE
The remarks section of this METAR was indicating more than just a thunderstorm in the area, but also detailing that lightning in the area was within the clouds and also cloud-to-ground, in all quadrants of the area. Lastly, it indicates the thunderstorm was moving southeast at that time.
Check out the screenshot of my aera 796 from this morning while using XM. The airfield (KHUM) is technically reporting VFR conditions but given the amount of lightning in the area and the notation of “TSRA” in the METAR, its clear there’s a well-developed thunderstorm near the field.
It’s been awhile since many parts of the country have seen these Spring-like notations embedded in a METAR. Whatever your weather product of choice might be, it’s important to brush up on the seasonal abbreviations such as “GR” (hail), “FC” (funnel cloud), or “TCU” (tower cumulus - not the college!) because for as long as we are all pilots, we will always be flying in weather!