Monday, April 30, 2012

Graphical and Textual Weather Products

In this post I'm going to write a simple reference guide about the different graphical and textual weather products, and the links where they can be consulted, that help execute a good pre-flight planning in the United States.

DUATS is excellent to get weather info, NOTAMs, file flight plans, but the graphics of the different products are not that good. You can create a DUATS account with a student or pilot certificate. When you enter the flight information, you get the weather reports, NOTAMs, etc and it can be used to comply with the pre-flight briefing requirement.

You can also get weather information and graphics from the Jeppesen JetPlan and the NOAA's AviationWeather site. You need a suscription to JetPlan, but you can copy the links of the graphs and paste them on a link to see the chart. They are the most easy-to-interpret and user friendly sites. Too bad DUATS doesn't use NOAA's graphics.

Graphical Products


Display infrared images from geostationary satellites showing cloud areas.

Jeppesen Satellite Products

Aviation Weather Satellite Images (You can select either the latest image, a big or a small loop in a visible or infrared image type)

Surface Analysis

It displays front and pressure system positions along with detailed WX information as observed at various locations. Frequency: Every 3 hours. Valid Period: Observation.

Jeppesen Surface Analysis Chart and 24h Forecast

Aviation Weather Surface Analysis Chart

Weather Depiction

A 'de-cluttered' surface analysis that sumarizes WX conditions, from METAR observations, by showing broad areas of IFR and MVFR. Frequency: Every 3 hours. Valid Period: Observation.

Jeppesen Weather Depiction Chart

GIF or PDF Aviation Weather Depiction Chart

Radar Summary

Displays precipitation echoes along with type, trend, movement and intensity. Frequency: Every 35 minutes past the hour. Valid Period: Observation.

Aviation Weather GIF or PDF Radar Summary Chart

Low-Level Significant Weather Prognostic

Forecast areas of significant weather and precipitation in 12 and 24 hour blocks. Frequency: Every 6 hours. Valid Period: 24 hours.

Jeppesen 12h and 24h Surface Analysis Chart

Aviation Weather Low-Level Significant Weather Prognostic Charts (Recommended) and Analysis and forecast surface conditions (Prog Charts)

Convective Outlook

Gives an easy-to-see visual representation of the areas in which thunderstorm activity is expected to develop. Frequency: 12h: 5 times daily, 24h: 2 times daily. Valid Period: 1200Z of the next day.

Jeppesen Convective Outlook Chart

Aviation Weather Convective Outlook Charts

Winds and Temperatures Aloft

It's a graphical version of the textual product. Frequency: Every 12 hours. Valid Period: 12 hours.

Jeppesen FL050 (850 mb) Analysis and Forecast

Aviation Winds and Temperatures Aloft Charts (Recommended)


Jeppesen Icing Maps

Aviation Weather Icing Charts and Freezing Level Graphics

Other Important Stuff

There's a page to check graphical AIRMETs and SIGMETs. You can either choose interactive or static G-AIRMETs. (Recommended)

Jeppesen IFR and Mountain Obscuration AIRMETS

Jeppesen Turbulence Maps

Jeppesen SIGMET and Convective SIGMET Areas

Textual Products

Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR)

Weather observation at an airport including winds, temps, sky condition, pressure, etc. Frequency: Every 53 minutes past the hour. Valid Period: Observation.

Terminal Area Forecast (TAF)

Airport forecast including winds, sky condition, precipitation types, visibility, etc. Frequency: Every 6 hours. Valid Period: 24 hours.

Area Forecast (FA)

Forecasts for large regions including cloud heights, precipitation types, visibility and general atmospheric condition (VFR, MVFR, IFR). Frequency: Every 8 hours. Valid Period: 18 hours.


Outlines areas of weather events affecting primarily smaller aircraft, including IFR conditions, turbulence and icing conditions. Frequency: Every 6 hours. Valid Period: 6 hours.


Outlines areas of significant weather events affecting all aircraft including icing, turbulence, blowing dust/ash/sand and volcanic eruptions. Frequency: As needed. Valid Period: 4 hours.

Convective SIGMETs (WST)

Outlines areas of significant weather events relating to convective (thunderstorm) activity. Frequency: Hourly. Valid Period: 2 hours.

Winds & Temperatures Aloft (FD)

Forecasts wind direction and velocity and temperatures at various levels of the atmosphere. Frequency: Every 12 hours. Valid Period: As noted.

Center Weather Advisory (CWA)

Current significant weather event information discussed in a prior WA, WS, WST disseminated to pilots by ARTCC.Frequency: As needed. Valid Period: 2 hours.

Pilot Reports (UA/UUA)

Weather observations provided by pilots including information on temperature, wind, sky condition, turbulence and other significant weather.

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