The field is IFR or MVFR and you're headed on a cross country. If you fly in remote areas, like us Vermonters, you'll notice a lack of pilot reports, particularly if you're launching early in the morning. So, how do you check for cloud tops?
If you're getting your briefing from ForeFlight, there is one forecast you should pay attention to and it only shows up during your briefing. The Experimental Aviation Clouds Forecast is a relatively new addition to the ForeFlight briefing and it provides a simple view of forecast cloud layers and tops without having to look at a lot of other sources.
The tool comes to us via the NOAA Aviation Weather Center. If you're not a ForeFlight user, you can also access this great new resource directly by clicking Aviation Weather Center and then selecting clouds from the Plot drop-down box in the upper right-hand corner.
This chart will tell you type and level of cloud tops as well as layers across your route of flight. It gives you the answers you need without having to decipher a skew-t chart and when there may be a lack of PIREPs available to confirm what is actually going on in the atmosphere.
Each entry on the map includes:
- The altitude and types of each cloud layer
- The altitude of the tops if clouds are present
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Interested in learning more about what ForeFlight has to offer, Aviation Weather or Flight Planning tips and tricks? Check out our previous posts: