Link to the eLearning

1       Introduction 

Basic Weather Information 

In this topic, you learn how to use and interpret different weather and radar settings available with a basic weather subscription. 

We estimate that this will take 12 minutes to complete.

2       Detailed Explanation 

Basic Weather

The Basic weather package is the global standard weather package that you receive with an N-Tracking subscription. Basic weather options include:

 

        Current METAR Weather Depiction: Current METAR observations at an airport

        NWS (National Weather Service) Bulletins: Active bulletins for your location

        EUMetNet Bulletins: Weather and forecast for Europe

        Infrared Satellite: Cloud coverage for different regions worldwide

        Visible satellite: Current visible satellite data available over US and Europe 

        TFRs (Temporary Flight Restrictions): US only

        Airmets: Airmen's Meteorological Information provides concise descriptions of actual or predicted weather phenomena localized along an air route and which may affect aircraft safety. For the US only, Airmets provide icing and turbulence information.

        Sigmets: Significant Meteorological Information provides detailed descriptions of actual or predicted weather phenomena which may affect aircraft safety.

        METAR for airports:  Routine weather report issued at hourly or half-hourly intervals; describes meteorological elements observed at an airport at a specific time

        TAF for airports:  Terminal Aerodrome Forecast is a concise statement of the expected meteorological conditions at an airport during a specified period (usually 24 hours). It uses the same coding as a METAR.

        Current Surface Fronts: Presents images of fronts between how warm, cold, dry or moist the air is; fronts mark the boundary between these different types of air. You may see warm, cold, occluded and troughs in this feature.

        PIREPS: Pilot report of actual weather conditions encountered in flight
 

As you can see in this example, the names of all active weather layers display on the map. This feature reassures you that if you are not seeing particular weather, it is because that weather is not happening -- not that you forgot to enable a particular weather layer while doing your planning.

Use the Layers icon to access and work with the weather layers. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers icon.

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Interaction 1 Click the BASIC tab.

As you saw from the previous view of the map, in this example, NWS bulletins are enabled. That's why they're listed on the map.

Deactivate them for the moment by clicking their slider.

You may recall that EDR Turbulence is also listed on the map. You don't see that option on this tab, because it's on the HAZARD tab.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the NWS bulletins slider.

Start with the first of the weather options and work your way down through the list to learn what each offers. 

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Interaction 1 Click the Current METAR Weather Depiction slider.

Zoom in so that you can isolate the colored dot that is of interest to you. 

For this example, click the red dot north-east of aircraft N831SY. 

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Interaction 1 Click the red dot.

N-Tracking highlights the dot you clicked and presents more detailed weather details in a table on the right of the map. 


Close the table after you read the information. (The table may include additional columns of information. Be sure to scroll to the right to view all details.)

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click X (Close).

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Interaction 1 Click the Layers icon.

Click the Current METAR Weather Depiction slider again to deactivate this feature while you explore NWS bulletins. 

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Interaction 1 Click the Current METAR Weather Depiction slider.

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Interaction 1 Click the NWS bulletins slider.

NWS bulletins display National Weather Service (NWS) information for your location at a glance. The summary of all alerts issued by the National Weather Service in effect for the county displays.

NWS bulletins are color coded on the map, using the following colors:

Red -- warnings

Yellow -- watches

Purple -- advisories

Best practice is to read the content by enabling the NWS. The description could read snow or heavy rainfall etc that might well cause a disruption for the flight.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Advisories slider.

As you can see, an NWS advisories have been issued for some county and marine zones. To hone in on one of these zones, you can click the Zoom in icon or use the scroll wheel on your mouse.

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Interaction 1 Click the Watches slider.

In this example, a couple of areas have NWS watches applied. Watches are colored orange and yellow on the map. 

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Interaction 1 Click the Warnings AMI slider.

Zoom in for better visibility on the warnings. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Zoom in (+) button.

In this example, none of your planes are flying into NWS warning AMIs. Click the warning area highlighted by the red arrow on the map to see the information N-Tracking provides. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the (red) warning zone.

Notice how the map display of your active weather layers changes as you work.

The Weather pane provides more detailed information about the warning. 

Use the horizontal and vertical scrollbars on the pane to review all the available information.

The darkened circle highlights the area you selected. 

Close the Weather pane when you have the information you need. 

Interaction 1

Use the vertical and horizontal scroll bars to view all of the information in the Weather pane. 

Interaction 1 Click the Close (X) icon.

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Interaction 1 Click the Layers icon.

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Interaction 1 Click the Advisories AMI slider.

The Area of Maximum Impact (AMI) is encoded in the warning issued by the NWS. You can determine which part of the county is most likely to be affected by the hazardous weather event, as it is outlined with a dotted border.

Interaction 1

Click the advisory AMI zone (purple) surrounded by a white, dashed border. 

Interaction 1 Click the (purple) advisory zone.

As you saw with NWS warnings, the area you selected is highlighted on the map. 

Consult more detailed information in the Weather pane. 

Close the pane when you finish your review.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Close (X) icon.

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Interaction 1 Click the Layers icon.

After you review all the weather options of NWS bulletins, deactivate them all by clicking the "global" NWS slider. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the NWS bulletins slider.

Let's now have a look at the EUMetNet bulletins. 

Adjust the map orientation to view Europe.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the EUMetNet MeteoAlarm bulletins slider.

The EUMetNet MeteoAlarm provides the most relevant information needed to prepare for extreme weather, expected to occur somewhere over Europe.

It alerts you to the possible occurrence of severe weather such as heavy rain with the risk of flooding, severe thunderstorms, gale force winds, etc.

Interaction 1

You can select whether to show very dangerous, dangerous or potentially dangerous for today or tomorrow by toggling the slider "on".

Let's see what happens when we turn some sliders on. 

Interaction 1 Click the Very dangerous Today slider.

Bulletins about 'very dangerous' weather phenomena display in red if intense meteorological phenomena have been forecast for today. Major damage and accidents are likely.

In this example, there are none expected for today.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Dangerous Today slider.

Bulletins classed as 'dangerous' display in orange. They indicate that unusual meteorological phenomena have been forecast for today. Damage and casualties are likely to happen.

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Interaction 1 Click the Potentially dangerous Today slider.

Yellow (not depicted) indicates that the weather is potentially dangerous. The weather phenomena that have been forecast are not unusual.

The EUMetNet bulletins apply in Europe only and apply only for today (based on the settings shown in the example).

To see the forecast for the next day you must activate the "Tomorrow" sliders.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the EUMetNet MeteoAlarm bulletins slider.

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Interaction 1 Click the Infrared satellite slider.

Currently, North America satellite image is enabled. As we are viewing Europe, let's turn on satellite imagery for Europe.

Satellite images update every 30 minutes.

Infrared satellite images show you the current cloud cover for your chosen area.

You can turn on and off different areas and view either current or forecast weather imagery.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Europe slider.

Click on your area of interest in the satellite image and N-Tracking displays more detailed information. 




The Weather pane provides more detailed information. You can see the information that is presented. The number 9885 is the cloud height in feet.  

Visible satellite is similar to infrared satellite in the imagery the only difference is that visible record visible light that is reflected by clouds. Infrared, this is radiations emitted from the clouds and can show you different intensity depending on the temperature of the feature.

Let's look at other basic weather options. Use the Layers icon to access them.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers icon.

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Interaction 1 Click the TFRs slider.

The color of a TFR identifies the category of hazard:
 

Orange = Fire
Red = Nuclear
 

Blue = VIP
 

Green = Stadium
 

Grey = Other

 

When you see these on the map, best practice is to click on the TFR and read the text to familiarize yourself with the restriction.

TFRs are updated every five minutes and are available for the US only.

When activated, Temporary Flight Restrictions (TFRs) display colored flags that define an area of restricted air travel due to a hazardous condition, a special event, or a general warning for the associated airspace. TFRs are a type of NOTAM and can be issued at any time.

Let's turn off TFRs and turn on Airmets. 

Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the TFRs slider.

Airmets information provides concise descriptions of actual or predicted weather along an air route which may have an impact on the safety of the aircraft. Airmets are routinely issued for six-hour periods. The two options that can be turned on/off are US icing and US turbulence.

Let's start by looking at US Icing.

Interaction 2 Click the Airmets slider.

Turning on the US icing provides you with a graphical description of the icing over the US as shown on the map. Clicking within the graphics will give you a more detailed description of the Airmet zulu giving you details on heights of the icing and freezing levels. Airmets are issued at discrete times; three hours apart for a period of 12 hours into the future.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the US Icing slider.

The displayed table provides detailed information about the icing conditions.

Next, let's have a look at the US Turbulence.

The title ZULU Airmet is the series name given to icing conditions. The other names that can be given to airmets are Airmet TANGO (turbulence) and Airmet SIERRA (IFR conditions and/or extensive mountain obscuration).

Airmets are for the US only. They are not provided for any other part of the world.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the US Turbulence slider.

Click a point within the Airmet to display detailed information about the TANGO Airmet.

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Interaction 1 Click the US IFR slider.

Currently, N-Tracking does not depict US IFR. When available, it shows areas where IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) conditions are present.
Let's move on to looking at SIGMETS.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Airmets slider.

Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Sigmets slider.

Interaction 2 Click the US Convective slider.

Convective sigmets are issued for convection over the US. They are issued for an area of:

        embedded or severe thunderstorms expected to occur for more thatn 30 minutes.

        a line of thunderstorms at least 60 miles long. 

        area of thunderstorms affecting at least 3000 square miles.

Convective sigmets are valid for two hours and are issued hourly. In this example, you can see that there is only one sigmet over the US that has been highlighted.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the image. 

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Click inside the SIGMET to display more detailed information.

Next, let's have a look at turning on global SIGMETS.

Interaction 1 Click the Close button.

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Interaction 1 Click the Global slider.

After you enable global sigmets, you see meteorological information for all parts of the world. The sigmet issues colored shapes covering FIRs (flight information regions):
 

        Red indicates thunderstorms.

        Yellow indicates turbulence.

        Blue indicates Icing.
 

For more details on each, click the relevant shape displayed on the map.

This detailed information is for Jeddah FIR. This example provides detailed information about thunderstorms.  

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the METAR for airports slider.

Meteorological Aerodrome Reports (METAR) is a reporting weather information. It is predominantly used by pilots. Turning on the METAR for airports will present you with different color dots. this are highlighted below.
 

        Red dot: This indicates Instrument flight rules (IFR) METAR

        Yellow dot: This indicates marginal visual flight rules (VFR) METAR

        Purple dot: This indicates low IFR conditions METAR

        Green dot: This indicates visual flight rules weather

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the METAR for airports slider.

Let's have a look at the terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAF).

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the TAF for airports slider.

Activating the terminal aerodrome forecast (TAF) displays similar colored markers (dots) to the METAR. A TAF is valid for a 30 hour time period and are issued four times a day at six hour intervals. Clicking on the dot will give you more details.

Some aerodromes can provide TAFs and METARs,  in which case, the associated marker may change color. Clicking on such a marker (dot) displays both the METAR and TAF information. 

The Weather pane displays raw text, as well as a more detailed description of the TAF for people who don't understand how to read a TAF.

Let's have a look at the current surface fronts. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Current Surface Fronts slider.

This feature presents you with current surface fonts every 3 hours.
 Cold Front - a zone separating two air masses, of which the cooler, denser mass is advancing and replacing the warmer air.
 Warm Front - a transition zone between a mass of warm air and the cold air it is replacing.
 Trough - an area of relatively low atmospheric pressure. This is the opposite of a ridge.
 Occluded Front - a composite of two fronts, formed as a cold front overtakes a warm front. Two types of occlusions can form, a cold occlusion where the cold air is behind the cold front and a warm occlusion where the coldest air is ahead of the warm front.
 Stationary Front - a front between a warm and cold air mass that is moving very slowly.
 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Current Surface Fronts slider.

Finally, let's activate the last of the basic weather features -- PIREPS. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the PIREPS slider.

PIREPs provide pilot reports of actual weather encountered by an aircraft in flight. They are transmitted in real-time via radio to a ground station. The location of the report is based on distance and direction to a known Nav Aid such as VOR.
The PIREP could present you with following images:

 

PIREP information is presented for the US only.