May 11, 2014 at 6:32 pm #85077
Had another dog run this weekend. Ohio to Houston to New Hampshire and back home.
I don’t have historical progs, but anyone who looked at them on Friday and Saturday saw they were pretty interesting. Initially, it looked on the progs like I would have to worry about storms for the first half of the trip between Ohio and about southwestern Tennessee (listed as broken heavy rain/thunderstorms), with the rest looking like scattered thunderstorms. A cold front was moving through from the west, pushing this weather in front of it.
The MOS forecast told a bit of a different story, with a relatively high possibility of thunderstorms (>40%) showing about the time I was going to land in Houston, but the rest of my route looking alright. Ceilings were high enough to be VFR (and expecting visual approaches) everywhere.
On the day of, the weather for the first half turned into just fine, with storms dissipating before we took off at around 2:30 PM. With headwinds we’d need a fuel stop heading south, so we stopped in SW Tennessee at a good airport with cheap fuel. Checking the radar, it looked like there was some weather to the west of our destination, but things were clear to the east, leaving lots of outs.
As we got south, the WX-500 seemed to indicate that there was a lot of weather over Houston proper, but on the north side, it didn’t look bad. The KWX56 radar isn’t working very well now (as I discovered) which I need to look into, which made it relatively useless. ATC radar said that I could go behind the weather to the west (which was moving east and hadn’t moved much since takeoff at the fuel stop), but there was a clear path straight ahead. WX-500 had a couple of blips, but a small enough number that things didn’t look concerning.
The last 20 minutes of the flight ended up being pretty interesting. With lots of planes going in and out around the area, the weather built very rapidly from moderate precip with some heavy to extreme precip directly over our destination airport about the time we past Lake Livingston (a bit north of CXO). Decided to divert to Lake Livingston, ATC’s response “I wouldn’t do that, there’s Level 4 Precip over that airport.” Asked which airport didn’t have Level 4 precip over it right now nearby, answer was 6R3 – Cleveland, about 20 nm east of our destination. Got a vector, pulled up the plate, diverted there. The whole trip was smooth, although there was some moderate to heavy precip along the way.
Coming in on final thinking that nobody else would be flying, a Seneca announced departing runway 32 (I was landing 16) heading VFR westbound, right into the weather. I informed him I was on short final and westbound was Level 4 precip, might not want to go there. He took off right after we landed.
Not 20 minutes on the ground and the skies cleared up, and we were able to VFR the 20 nm back over to our original destination. When we got there, we asked the line guys how bad the rain had been. Bad enough that it knocked out power at the airport (which was still out the next morning when we left) and they said things were blowing all over the place, constant wind shift directions. Diverting was definitely the right call.
The timing of the weather rapidly building and then rapidly shrinking was interesting. Had we been about 10 minutes faster, we would’ve made it in fine. That said, it probably would have been better to go around the west side anyway. I don’t have ADS-B or NEXRAD. I think that’s officially on my list now. Had I been able to watch the pattern of the storm, I think I would have recognized what was happening and made a different decision earlier on to go around the back side until things cleared up. But, hindsight is always 20/20. Everything was actually pretty smooth. No worse than typical moderate turbulence, no significant updrafts or downdrafts like what I normally get with stormy areas in the northeast.
The FlightAware track doesn’t show it entirely right, but probably semi close.
The northern legs were also interesting. While storms existed, they required very little diverting. Mostly isolated lines/cells that paralleled our routes. Coming home was easy. The cold front had pushed through, and it was VMC the whole way.
I think it might be time to order a Stratus.May 11, 2014 at 6:48 pm #105159May 11, 2014 at 6:50 pm #105160quote TDUPUIS:
Great insight, Ted. Glad that you made the trip safely! 😀May 12, 2014 at 12:16 am #105164jgrimesParticipant
I agree that inflight NEXRAD is a wonderful asset. Can watch the weather two states ahead and have an educated idea of what to expect.
JoeMay 12, 2014 at 12:29 am #105165quote JGRIMES:
Agreed, which on Saturday would’ve been good. For the really interesting stuff in Houston when it was all happening towards the end of the trip, if I could have seen things growing as I approached, I would’ve gone around the back side of the storm and sat in a hold for a while, or else just landed and waited for things to clear up.May 12, 2014 at 1:13 am #105166bwhitefordParticipant
Interesting flight. NEXRAD is great for watching the total picture. We have it with my 310 via the GDL88 and it is shown on my 530. I also have a Stratus 2 which is great. Gives me a great deal of backup with my iPhone and iPad during IMC. I also have a stormscope and an RDR2000 color radar. Put them all together and it is a great combo for weather flying/avoiding.
Sounds like u did the right thing by diverting weather and then afterwards flying final short leg. Severe wind and rain is not my idea of fun. Was jerry with you?May 12, 2014 at 1:31 am #105167
The KWX56 isn’t working as well as it used to. So I probably either need to send it out for some work or consider an upgrade. I’ve liked them in other airplanes, so I think it’s the unit itself that’s getting weak. But a NEXRAD/ADS-B upgrade is probably going to be more useful at this point truthfully and I think is higher on the priority list.
Yep, Jerry came along. He was a lot of fun to fly with and got some good experience from the trip, I hope. He called while we were out at dinner this evening and I didn’t get a chance to call him back, so I suspect he made it home safely.May 12, 2014 at 10:59 am #105173
Thanks Ted, good read.
It’s great that you take the time to pen these flight -keep them coming for us..
AndrewMay 12, 2014 at 5:11 pm #105184quote TDUPUIS:
Ted: Completely agree on the NEXRAD/ADS-B. I added this upgrade last year and it’s been outstanding. With the type of weather you have in your neck of the woods, I think you’d find this very helpful. Again, thanks for sharing. Troy
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