# How/Where can I get additional weather information for flight planning?

METARs, TAFs, the area forecast (FA), and flight service briefings are great tools, but if I'm planning a flight with an overnight stay (or a flight that itself might take me a couple of days of travel time) I often feel that the weather picture I'm getting is a little too short-term for my liking.

Aside from watching The Weather Channel are there any supplementary weather sources I can look at which are useful for aviation/flight-planning purposes?

I'm interested mainly in resources for the USA but answers for other countries would be interesting too.

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Honestly, for long term I usually just use the weather channel's website. There are also the typical long term aviation graphical forecasts that show long-term forecasts, but they don't show temperatures (which are sometimes important). –  Lnafziger Jan 5 '14 at 2:05
I use the weather channel for anything more than 3 days out myself, but I find it to be "sketchy" - Generally if I don't know what's going to happen weather-wise their reports seem to be equally uncertain. (Why do we pay these people money again?) –  voretaq7 Jan 5 '14 at 2:18

The Meteorological Service of Canada (MSC), the United States National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Meteorological Service of Mexico (NMSM) have a joint project called North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS). I've referred to it in the past to get some outlook on temperature and precipitation amounts more than a couple days in the future.

From the NAEFS site:

NAEFS combines state of the art ensemble forecasts, developed at the MSC and the NWS. When combined, the grand ensemble can provide weather forecast guidance for the 1-14 day period that is of higher quality than the currently available operational guidance based on either set of ensembles alone. It allows the generation of a set of forecast products that are seamless across the national boundaries between Canada, the United States and Mexico.

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In Europe, several national meteorological services provide additional info (sometimes on a paid basis). Some other services cater e.g. especially to glider pilots. Examples:

There are also a number of private websites run by clubs and/or enthusiast pilots, e.g. http://www.schaenissoaring.ch/wetter_berichte.cfm?SelectedMenuID=154 or http://www.alpenstreckenflug.de/wettera.htm which offer excellent (curated) information, sometimes on very special conditions like mountain waves etc..

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Please feel free to edit in any source you prefer... –  yankeekilo Jan 7 '14 at 20:16

In my eyes, it's always a good idea to call WX BRIEF the evening before your planned flight (if you don't know your registration at this time, the pilot's last name is sufficient) and ask for a outlook briefing. Before you call check the TAFs and SIGWX charts available at http://aviationweather.gov/products/swl/ so you have a good idea what the briefer is talking about. These guys are really helpful and especially when you call in the evening hours they take a lot of time to discuss the weather situation with you and even answer related questions or suggest other weather sources which may be helpful for your particular operation.

For you who don't know WX BRIEF: it's a free number 1800WXBRIEF (18009927433) you can dial in the US to get a standard, abbreviated, or outlook briefing. This service is provided by Lockheed Martin flight services.

If you need help to interpret weather information you will find the answer to your question in Advisory circular 00-45G.

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A telephone briefing is certainly an important part of pre-flight prep (not just for weather - I've had flight service briefers give me airspace information that wasn't in my DUAT briefing). That said, I've found their weather skills to be hit or miss - some briefers are excellent (and have sufficient weather knowledge to actually offer some insight), and others... not so much. (I find it helps if you specify your state when requesting the briefing so you don't get someone halfway across the country who doesn't know your local area's weather patterns.) –  voretaq7 Jan 7 '14 at 9:00
Yea, that helps absolutely. I'm not long in the US but I've already made this experience. I can't really evaluate their weather skills yet, but anyway, as I've already mentioned, I'm a fan of getting your own sight of ghe weather prior calling wx brief and then using the possibility to get a second opinion on it or even have someone to discuss the weather, what's obviously possible only if the guy on the other end of the line knows what hes talking about. –  Falk Jan 7 '14 at 23:07
Oh and, by the way, thank you for editing the link ;) –  Falk Jan 7 '14 at 23:07

The (experimental) High Resolution Rapid Refresh model is pretty awesome. It's got a huge selection of plots and some aviation-specific filters. It's not particularly forward looking, though.

Most non-aviation forecasts are going to be pretty low detail, unfortunately. I would tend to stick with NOAA source data rather than third party stuff, as I doubt most websites are actually using custom climate models. The NOAA Climate Prediction Center has an 8-14 day outlook composite that might be somewhat useful.

A good NOAA source you didn't mention is http://aviationweather.gov, which has a more classic aviation focus in its available data. It has longer-term forecasts, but they often are graphical, low-resolution, and not of particularly great use for long term planning.

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Do either of those have long term forecasts (more than the standard aviation forecasts)? –  Lnafziger Jan 5 '14 at 1:35
HRRR is higher detail over similar periods, so, no, I suppose not. He hadn't specifically mentioned aviationweather.gov so I wanted to get it here as a resource. It's got some longer scope charts but they quite frankly are pretty bad. –  egid Jan 5 '14 at 1:38
HRRR is actually news to me - it seems like a tool with a lot of potential. –  voretaq7 Jan 5 '14 at 2:20
HRRR is awesome. It's just not really the right tool for your question. :) –  egid Jan 5 '14 at 3:26

One tool I use which is not aviation-specific is the NWS/NOAA Area Forecast Discussion.

This is a text-based collection of notes from the forecasters at regional National Weather Service offices, and I've found them to be full of useful "tribal knowledge" about weather patterns in an area.
I've found the most useful sections are the synopsis through the long-term (about 1-week) discussions. There is a brief aviation-specific section as well, which is also available on aviationweather.gov

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I have all of my students read this every day along with their weather briefing. Knowing not only what the forecast is but the confidence level of the people making it is invaluable. –  Steve V. Jan 5 '14 at 2:33

As you mention that you are interested for resource in other country other than USA, here is the TAF, METAR/SPECI for Hong Kong International Airport(VHHH/HKG), ang SIGMET for HKFIR(VHHK). You may access them though http://www.hko.gov.hk/aviat/amt_e/wxobsfc_e.htm

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It's paid content but the weather briefs from http://avwxworkshops.com/ are great. I have used them to help take my light plane across the country twice. Considering the importance of weather, I think membership is a good deal relative to the other costs of flying. I'm not affiliated, just a happy customer.

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