One of the reasons I like staffing a NOAA/National Weather Service booth at aviation-related events (such as the recent Hawaii Aviation Day at the Hawaii State Capitol) is because of the questions that pilots ask. If one person asks a question, chances are there are others out there wondering the same thing. This article will highlight a few sources of weather information available on the NWS Honolulu website that may be useful but not well known, and also introduce an initiative that's designed to improve communication between our office and community groups interested in improving weather safety and preparedness.
Other Sources of Weather Information
Want a quick idea of the weather pattern? We write a narrative Area Forecast Discussion (AFD) four times a day. Part of the AFD may be pretty technical because its main purpose is to describe the meteorological reasoning behind the current forecast. However, there are a couple sections that may be of particular interest to aviators. The "Synopsis" gives a brief summary (in non-technical language) of the overall pattern and expected weather impacts across the state. The "Aviation" section provides aviation-specific information such as expected flight categories (e.g., overall VFR with marginal VFR ceilings in showers for windward areas) or occurrence and duration of AIRMET conditions (e.g., low-level turbulence continuing through Tuesday).
- On the left-hand menu, under the "Forecasts" section, click "Hawaii", then the link for "State Forecast Discussion". (The synopsis is also included on the right-hand side of our home page and the aviation section in the middle of our aviation weather page just below the SIGMET map.)
Want to look at the forecast as pictures instead of text? We create images of each weather element from the same forecaster-maintained weather database that is used to generate the text forecasts (both the point-specific forecast available from the City/State search box or the more generalized zone-based forecast). Forecast images are available for seven days into the future.
- On the left-hand menu, under the "Forecasts" section, click "Local Graphics"
Want to know when a certain set of weather conditions will happen but don't want to scroll through all of the above images? We have a way to query the seven day forecast database and look for conditions that you specify. Say you want to know when the forecast for wind speed will be 10 mph or less and cloud cover will be 50% or less at Kalaeloa: voilà!
- On the left-hand menu, under the "Forecasts" section, click "Activity Planner"
Weather Ready Nation Ambassador Program
It can be helpful to receive information in an article like this, but really improving forecast and weather information to make flying safer requires a two-way dialog. A recent initiative across the National Weather Service called the Weather Ready Nation (WRN) Ambassador program is designed to improve that dialog by developing relationships between NWS offices and community groups. It's a way for us to partner with businesses, schools, government agencies, and other groups to help make our communities more resilient and ready to respond to weather events.
It's easy to register as a WRN Ambassador; simply complete this online application. (Listing me as your current NWS contact will make sure I receive a copy of your application.) There is no commitment of resources to be an Ambassador. All an organization needs to do is maintain a current point-of-contact with us. Become a WRN Ambassador and together we can build a Weather Ready Nation.
Aviation Weather Program Manager
National Weather Service Honolulu
john.bravender AT noaa.gov