Old 02-03-2011, 04:37 AM   #1
Mgoldman
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Default Weather it'll be nice or not, no one knows...

Gotta love it...

Sometimes when I want to go out and shoot, I check the weather.
If it looks bad, I used to simply shop around for a better forecast.

Now - Weather Underground saves me that step!

No need to go site to site - you can choose which forecast works best
for you. For tomorrow, Thursday, for instance, you can go with "Mostly
Sunny" or "Partly Cloudy". It's your choice!




/Mitch

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Old 02-03-2011, 05:01 AM   #2
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I absolutely hate the weather news sites (and local news stations) because they are so unreliable. For instance, on Sunday the news stations predicted a "mostly cloudy" day. Although there were some clouds in the morning, by noon there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I got a few really nice shots. At least that worked out better than normal, because sometimes they predict sunny and there is a thick layer of gray clouds blanketing the sky for the whole day. You can tell I really don't like the weather stations.

For the obligatory shot from Sunday, here you go, nary a cloud in sight:
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:34 AM   #3
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It's always sunny in Philadelphia.
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks View Post
It's always sunny in Philadelphia.
Yeah... and it never rains in London.
I have yet to see that show, btw.
Am I missing anything?

Anyway - I've switched from Weather Underground to the Weather Channel.
The confusion is much better presented.

Who wants to go railfanning in Philly this weekend.
Weather forecast looks, uh, uhm... well, ???

/Mitch
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Old 02-03-2011, 05:49 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Freericks View Post
It's always sunny in Philadelphia.
Yeah... and it never rains in London.
I have yet to see that show, btw.
Am I missing anything?

Anyway - I've switched from Weather Underground to the Weather Channel.
The confusion is much better presented.

Who wants to go railfanning in Philly this weekend.
Weather forecast looks, uh, uhm... well, let's see...




/Mitch
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Old 02-03-2011, 06:11 AM   #6
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Apparently no one is proof-reading those.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:11 AM   #7
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I will publicly thank Brad Morocco for turning me on to NOAA.org. By far the most accurate weather site I have ever seen. I would estimate its dead nuts on about 90% of the time. I live and die by the cloud cover graph.

On more than one occasion I've headed out trackside under totally cloudy skies and by the time I got there and it would magically clear up right when NOAA said it would. Conversely, I've gone out on cloudless days dispute NOAA saying it would rain in a hour only to be soaked by the time I got trackside.
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Old 02-03-2011, 07:55 PM   #8
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Hi John,

Me too. I use the National Weather Service site to help me lower my expectations for any given trip.

For those who haven't used it, go here: http://www.weather.gov/

In the left-hand margin, under Forecasts, pick "Local".

You will then see a list of forecast offices around the country. Pick the one closest to the area where you'll be shooting. In Mitch's case, that would likely be Philadelphia/Mt. Holly. Click on that.

You will then see a map of that office's forecast region. Put your cursor on the spot nearest the area of interest and click. You'll get the point forecast for the next several days....in text form as well as the little cloudy or sunny pictures.

Lastly, go down to the bottom right under Additional Forecasts & Information. Click on "Hourly Weather Graph". That's the product John was talking about. It goes out several days and attempts to predict all of the various meteorological parameters (temp, dewpoint, wind, cloud cover etc) by the hour. It is generated from some of the computer models and is the most detailed forecast product I know of, including the aviation products.

I suppose if someone doesn't want to take the time to study this stuff, they can probably do just as well with the following guideline:

"If they say it's going to be good, it's going to be bad. If they say it's going to be bad, it's going to be bad."
In all seriousness, I've been flying airplanes for 30 years this month and I've learned that forecasts for bad weather are generally more accurate than forecasts for good weather.
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Old 02-03-2011, 09:37 PM   #9
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Maybe that's why I enjoy shooting at night so much. It's matters less on the cloud cover, and the moonlight is always predictable..

And I'll add another thumb up for NOAA. It's closer than anybody else.

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Old 02-03-2011, 09:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mgoldman View Post
Yeah... and it never rains in London.
I have yet to see that show, btw.
Am I missing anything?

Anyway - I've switched from Weather Underground to the Weather Channel.
The confusion is much better presented.

Who wants to go railfanning in Philly this weekend.
Weather forecast looks, uh, uhm... well, let's see...




/Mitch


Classic! I like your sense of humor, something I thought people from the Northeast didn't have.

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Old 02-04-2011, 03:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlgevo51 View Post
I absolutely hate the weather news sites (and local news stations) because they are so unreliable. For instance, on Sunday the news stations predicted a "mostly cloudy" day. Although there were some clouds in the morning, by noon there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and I got a few really nice shots. At least that worked out better than normal, because sometimes they predict sunny and there is a thick layer of gray clouds blanketing the sky for the whole day. You can tell I really don't like the weather stations.
Jake, you definitely need to start using weather.gov.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdirelan87 View Post
I will publicly thank Brad Morocco for turning me on to NOAA.org. By far the most accurate weather site I have ever seen. I would estimate its dead nuts on about 90% of the time. I live and die by the cloud cover graph.
Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM View Post
Lastly, go down to the bottom right under Additional Forecasts & Information. Click on "Hourly Weather Graph". That's the product John was talking about. It goes out several days and attempts to predict all of the various meteorological parameters (temp, dewpoint, wind, cloud cover etc) by the hour. It is generated from some of the computer models and is the most detailed forecast product I know of, including the aviation products.
Add another vote for the Hourly Weather Graphs as being the most accurate thing on the NOAA/NWS site. I love the cloud cover graph. Obviously, the farther out you forecast, the less reliable it will be, but for a day or two, it's spot on.

Lastly, in the winter, if there's a snowstorm coming, and you want to know how much you're getting, there's another great site in addition to weather.gov: the American Weather forums at www.americanwx.com/bb/. I'm not sure how good it is for the rest of the country, but it's a fountain of info for the Northeast. It takes a while to get used to all the jargon and weather "weenies," but the discussions and forecast maps for snowstorms are unbelievable.

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Old 02-04-2011, 05:14 PM   #12
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we have 15 inches of snow on the ground here and I use forecast.weather.gov
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:26 PM   #13
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I like NOAA too, but I think most accurate is a relative term...

Inset and screen capture taken at 2:30 PM, Friday afternoon.
Mostly sunny, I don't see it that way!



/Mitch
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Old 02-04-2011, 07:55 PM   #14
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Mitch,

The same dark cloud that follows me, must be chasing you as well.

Just across the river at Mercer County Airport, here are the actual reports for the last 4 hrs:

KTTN 041853Z 28008KT 10SM CLR 01/M09 A3017 RMK AO2 SLP213 T00111094
KTTN 041753Z 28007KT 10SM CLR 01/M10 A3021 RMK AO2 SLP228 T00061100 10006 21089 58035
KTTN 041653Z 29011KT 10SM CLR M01/M11 A3026 RMK AO2 SLP242 T10061106
KTTN 041553Z 27005KT 10SM CLR M02/M10 A3030 RMK AO2 SLP258 T10171100

Nothin' but clear skies! Forecast verified!

Here's the thing. From a National Weather Service Forecaster's standpoint, a high cirrus layer filtering the sun is still mostly sunny. You and I may not feel that way at all because we care far more about that "filtering" than the average Joe.

The reason Trenton is calling it clear, is because the Automated Surface Observation Systems (ASOS) at the airports typically don't see any clouds above 12,000 ft, so if you have a high, cirrus layer, it's clueless. Looking at the Aviation Forecast for Trenton, we see it DOES mention the high overcast:

KTTN 041739Z 0418/0518 27009KT P6SM OVC200
FM042100 23007KT P6SM BKN200
FM050200 19003KT P6SM SCT080 BKN200
FM050500 00000KT P6SM OVC070
FM051000 VRB03KT 5SM -FZRASN BR SCT012 OVC025
FM051500 09006KT 4SM -RA BR OVC008

English translation: Winds from 270 degrees at 9 knots, visibility more than 6 miles, OVERCAST at 20,000 ft. After 21Z (4PM EST), 230 at 7 knots, Vis 6 miles or greater and BROKEN clouds at 20,000 ft....and so on. This forecast goes out past 10 AM tomorrow. Unlike the hokey 7-day stuff you see on TV, aviation forecasts seldom go out more than 36 hrs....the limit for their ability to provide enough detail for life/death decision-making.

The aviation forecasts are actually more detailed than the ones intended for Joe Average. The National Weather Service really exists primarily to serve aviation and marine needs. Their general weather forecasts are a byproduct of that stuff.

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Old 02-04-2011, 08:14 PM   #15
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Now that I've broached the subject of aviation forecasts, if there are those among us who would like to look at them, here's a great place to start:

http://aviationweather.gov/adds/

Click on the tab entitled "TAFs". These are what used to be called Terminal Forecasts....a forecast of weather for specific periods of time at a specific airport. Not all airports have a TAF forecast, but most decent-size places with instrument approaches do.

On the TAFs page, you'll see an input window. Key in the ICAO identifiers for the airports you want. The site is looking for the full ICAO identifier and US airports normally begin with a "K". So, Philly for instance, is KPHL. Before you hit "Get TAFs", I would check the box that offers the forecast in translated format. Otherwise, you'll get the coded versions that pilots prefer.

There are other useful tabs on the page for Radar, Satellite, and METARS....
METARs are actual reports from those automated stations. Again, request the translated versions unless you want to be confused.

Now, I'm sure you're all wondering how you'll ever get the 3-character identifiers for airports near you. Try this site: http://www.postmodern.com/~mcb/misc/code.html. Remember, if the 3-character identifier is TTN, for example, you will need to put a "K" in front of it (KTTN) when you enter it on the ADDS site.

Knock yourselves out!
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Old 02-04-2011, 09:07 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinM View Post
Mitch,

The same dark cloud that follows me, must be chasing you as well.
Oh, you must mean "Bob". Yeah - I always wonder where he is when he's not hanging out with me!



Thanks for insight - both on "Bob" and the explanation of cloudy overcast sunny days.

/Mitch
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:14 AM   #17
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Today, NOAA predicted mostly sunny at KBWI. I took these at the McDonalds in Elkridge, virtually on top of KBWI.

At about 4pm, I think the sun came out. I give them a fail. Should have been mostly cloudy in the morning to becoming mostly sunny in the evening.

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Old 03-19-2011, 03:06 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbassloyd View Post

And I'll add another thumb up for NOAA. Its closer than anybody else.

Loyd L.
Best yeah I think so but it is never 100% guys All that they can do is give best guesses. I work out side so get real good at reading between the lines. Most will say what If and may not go as planed in the forecast. Thats like rain under 50% and it's not all likely you will get rain but if its 50%+ It will rain but maybe not on you. 80%+ and it's a good bet you will get rained on. So 10 to 50% is the chances it's going to rain and 50%+ the likely hood you're going to get rained on.
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