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Regional weather information

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1       Introduction 

Regional weather information 

In this topic, you learn how to work with and interpret weather data provided under regional weather subscriptions. 

We estimate that this will take 15 minutes to complete.

2       Detailed explanation 

Regional weather

Use the REGIONAL tab to turn on and off weather layers for regions for which you have a weather information subscription. For example, if you enable radar images for the region of Europe, then you do not see radar images for the U.S.

N-Tracking provides the following weather layers:

        Lightning: cloud to ground and cloud to cloud lightning data for subscribed region(s)

        Radars: radar for different areas using colors to indicate precipitation type and intensity

        Tropical Forecasts: information on hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms

        Forecast winds and temperature: forecast winds and temperature aloft and areas of high winds

        Current winds and temperature: current winds and temperature aloft

        Current volcanoes forecast: location of currently active volcanoes

        Ash forecast: images and forecast of the latest areas affected by ash

        Jet streams forecasts: direction, speed and location of the jet stream

        Surface visibility forecast: surface visibility.

        Forecast surface fronts: warm, cold, and occluded fronts

        Forecast ceiling: cloud ceiling and flight category

In this topic, explore the information you can add to your map using the options available in the REGIONAL weather tab of the Layers pane. 

For this exploration, start with your map positioned over Florida, with a zoom of 100 nm.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

You can always adjust the setting of the Brightness slider to change the contrast between the water and land features on the map. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the REGIONAL tab.

The display of lightning strokes can be obscured on the map by other weather layers, such as the Radars layers (which use similar colors).

For this example, enable the Lightning layer on its own.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

Enable all three of the lightning layer options. 

Lightning symbols are color coded to depict age. This data updates every minute.


Interaction 3Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Cloud strokes slider.

Interaction 2 Click the Ground strokes slider.

Use the + and - buttons to adjust the time interval for which you want lightning information displayed. 

Interaction 3 Click the Density slider.

Zoom in to a level of 50 nm to look at the strokes more closely. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Zoom in (+) button.

Not all cloud lightning strokes are counted or displayed on the Lightning weather layer. Only a fraction of cloud lightning activity is displayed. However, this is still enough data to warn you of approaching thunderstorms.  

Hover your mouse over a depicted area of lightning activity and N-Tracking displays some detailed information on-screen. 

Interaction 1

If you click on the depicted lightning strokes, N-Tracking displays the same information in the Weather pane (in the upper right of the map). 

For this example, click in the area below and to the right of the on-screen information.

Interaction 1 Click the highlighted area.

Notice that the information pane has two tabs. If the NAV pane opens, but you want to see weather details, click the Weather tab to change the display. You can scroll through the information as needed, using the scroll bars. 

When you finish your review, close the pane.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Close (X) button.

You have completed your brief review of using the Lightning layers. Access their sliders again in the REGIONAL tab and disable the display of lightning information for now. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the "global" Lightning slider to disable all of its sub-options at once. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

Continue your review all of the different weather layers available to you on the REGIONAL tab. 

The Radars layers display current composite radar, including precipitation type and intensity for the region you select. 

Enable the Radars weather layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Radars slider.

Radar images are available for several different geographic zones. Enable the ones that are relevant for your flying regions.

For this example, enable radar images for the United States. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Radar, US slider.

You can use the - and + controls to display the forecast of the radar trends across your chosen area. You can choose from Current to 175 minutes in the past, with five-minute intervals.

The radar images use different colors to indicate the intensity of the falling rain or snow. While color schemes can be different, the most common include:

        Light green: light rain, or rain aloft not reaching ground

        Dark green: light to moderate rain

        Yellow: moderate rain

        Orange: heavy rain

        Red: very heavy rain or rain and hail

        White or blue: snow

        Pink: freezing rain or sleet or mix of winter precipitation types  

The mixture of light and dark green and yellow in this static radar image indicates a mixture of light to moderate rain.

Storm echo tops reflect the top of an area of precipitation, as detected by radar.
Currently, storm echo tops information is available for the U.S. only.

To determine where the echo tops for these storms are found, enable the Storm Echo Tops layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Storm Echo Tops, US slider.

The arrows pointing out from the storm echo tops indicators show the direction the storm is moving. 

Zoom in to a 20 nm zoom level to focus on a storm in a particular area. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click Zoom in (+).

You may also choose to display lightning strokes along with storm activity. For this example, enable the Lightning layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

You can enable lightning layers to show both real-time and delayed cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-cloud lightning. Use the + and - controls to set the time period for which you want lightning data displayed. 

The ACTIVE LAYERS pane shows all the weather layers you have enabled. You can use the Show/Hide icon to hide or reveal the list.

To enable or disable a weather layer, you must always use the relevant tabs in the Layers menu.

Hover your mouse over an Echo tops indicator on the map and N-Tracking displays detailed information on-screen. In this example, the white FL250 icon with an arrow pointing northwest represents storm JAX-R2. The storm top is at 14,000 ft.

If you click that icon, the information displays in the Weather pane in the upper right of the map.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the highlighted Echo tops icon.

The same information previously displayed on-screen in a "pop-up" displays in the Weather pane. You can copy information from the columns of the table into your clipboard. 

Close the Weather pane when you complete your review.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Close button.

Your zoom level and other active weather layers can affect the visibility of lightning symbols. In this example, the colors used in the radar image make it challenging to see the three lightning symbols that display in the highlighted area, just below the FL350 indicator .

Hover your mouse over another storm echo tops icon. For this example, the highlighted yellow icon for FL250. N-Tracking shows detailed information about storm JAX-T1.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the Lightning weather layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Lightning slider.

Different from the static radar image you just viewed, when you can also click the Play button and have N-Tracking play a recording of the DTN feed of radar images. The feed updates every 5 minutes. 

Display imagery as of the current time or click the minus (-) or plus (+) icons to view the forecast of the radar trends across your chosen area. You can choose from current to 175 minutes in the past, with five-minute intervals.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Play button.

If you click anywhere on the map while the animation is playing, N-Tracking provides detailed text about the radar imagery in the Weather pane.  

It may be difficult to get a real sense of the change of the animated images in this topic.

Stop playing the radar animation. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Stop button.

Next, let's review radar coverage areas. To do that, it makes most sense to use a higher zoom level.

Zoom out to see more of the map. For this example, zoom out to 500 nm. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click Zoom out (-).

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Coverage areas slider.

N-Tracking shows the geographic areas covered by your selected radar imagery. Coverage areas are bounded by dotted lines.

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the Coverage areas layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Coverage areas slider.

Disable the remaining radar layers by clicking the "global" Radars slider. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Radars slider.

Move on to the next weather option, tropical forecasts. 

Interaction 1

Turning on the Tropical forecasts layer provides updated information on global tropical forecasts for hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical storms.

Interaction 1 Click the Tropical, forecasts slider.

For the purposes of this demonstration, the map and its line scale unit change. 

You can display different layers of the storm using the following layers. Let's look at the individual features of the tropical forecasts in more detail.

Start by turning on all model tracks.

Interaction 2 Click the All model tracks slider.

Turn on All model tracks to see the tracks for a given storm. The depicted storm is located over the Philippines and South China Sea.

Zoom in closer for a clearer view.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click Zoom in (+).

If you find that the storm tracks do not show clearly enough, use the Brightness slider on the GENERAL tab to change the brightness of the map. The image below shows that All model tracks displays more visibly against a darker background.


You can now see the model tracks more easily. These lines represent the forecast track of storms based on different models. In the next slide, you see how the tracking lines line up with a storm. Let's have a look at turning on the official track of the storm.
The gray lines represent other tracks while the red line represents the official track.

Click on any part of the track to view detailed information, such as the name of the storm.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Official track slider.

The official track displays all past positions of the storm and provides a good view of where the storm has been and the direction in which it is moving. This data is updated every six hours or more frequently, as needed.
Images used for the track:

 Tropical storm


 Tropical depression

 Past position

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Track probability slider.

Hover over the track or click anywhere on the track to view detailed information in the Weather pane. 


Displaying track probability will give you an area of the probable track of the storm displayed over land or water.

The yellow area has a low probability; orange indicates medium probability; and red, high probability that the track of the storm could be heading in the indicated direction.

Hover over an area of the storm or click on the storm to view more detailed information. In this example, the Weather pane shows the details for all model tracks and track probability information.

After disabling the first three layers, have a look at turning on wind speed forecast. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click Wind Speed Forecast.

You can see the wind speed forecast shown in yellow. Hover your mouse over the wind diagram or click within it to view detailed information. The wind displays a color-coded, contoured forecast of wind data values over both land and water areas.


Detailed information regarding the wind. 


We will leave wind speed forecast on for now and let's have a look at the rain forecast. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Rain Forecast slider.

Enabling the Rain Forecast displays a color-coded, contoured forecast of rain data values over both land and water areas. Click the different colored areas to view forecast details. You can see with the image below that amount of rainfall (in inches) corresponds to the color on the map. 


The color codes are in inches. The detailed information shows the rainfall in millimeters.

Clicking within the image opens the Weather pane to display detailed information about the rain forecast.

Interaction 1

Let's turn on the wave forecast. 

Interaction 1 Click the Wave Forecast slider.

Wave height forecast will give you a color-coded contoured data values over water areas. Click within the wave information to display more details.

The color coding shows the height of the waves in feet. Clicking within the diagram will present the wave height in meters.

With the Tropical forecasts layer(s) turned off, let's look at the next feature, forecast winds and temperature.

Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Interaction 2 Click the Forecast winds and temperature slider.

The Forecast winds and temperature layer displays winds and temperature aloft and wind areas at a chosen flight level (FL) at a future time. 

Interaction 1

Let's start by looking at the winds and temperature aloft. 

Interaction 1 Click the Winds & Temps Aloft slider.

Turning on the Winds and Temps Aloft layer displays the following images. This layer provides you with graphics of winds and temperature at many altitudes. This presentation style is called "wind barbs." They show both wind speed and direction on a single icon. The following table explains the wind barbs.

The number on the wind barb represents the temperature. The direction indicates where the wind is coming from. For example:
 indicates the wind is from the West, blowing towards the East at 30 knots.

For more details, select one of the wind barbs. 

Interaction 1

If viewing the graphics is particularly difficult try changing the brightness of the map under the GENERAL tab.

The Winds Aloft layer shows only the winds in the current window view. If you zoom out, please give N-Tracking a few moments to re-load the winds for that changed zoom level. 

Interaction 1 Click the Wind Barb image.

Some important information regarding that particular wind barb: You can see that the temperature in the Weather pane matches the temperature represented on the wind barb that you selected. Let's see what happens when you change the flight level.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Close button.

Currently, we are looking and the winds aloft for flight level 050 (5,000 feet) and in the next six hours. Using the plus and minus buttons  , you can change the level and the future time of the forecast. Let's increase the flight level to 100 (10,000 feet). The wind barbs update automatically.

Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Interaction 2 Click the plus (+) button.

Increase flight level (FL) from 50 to 100. 

Now we have changed the flight level, let's look at the wind areas. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Wind Areas slider.

The wind areas graphic presents a contoured and color-filled polygon which indicates areas on the map where there are high wind speeds. Areas of very low wind speeds are not colored, but progressively faster wind speeds are colored from yellow, orange and red. Click the shape for more detailed information about the wind.


Currently, you are viewing the wind areas for FL100. Use the + and - controls to change the setting and view different flight levels.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Forecast winds and temperature slider.

We have just looked at the forecast winds and temperature, let's now have a look at the current winds and temperature. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Current winds and temperature slider.

The Current winds and temperature layer shows the current winds at your chosen flight level. In this example, the layer shows the winds aloft at flight level 050, which you can increase or decrease.

The Winds & Temps Aloft layer shows the wind barbs in the current window view. If you zoom out, wait a few moments to allow N-Tracking some time to re-draw the barbs for the new zoom level. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Current Volcanoes Forecast slider.

Let's now have a look at the volcanoes forecast and ash forecast that you might encounter on your flight.

Enabling the volcanoes forecast displays the latest advisory on global volcano activity. In this example, volcanoes display in gray, meaning no data is available. Other symbol colors include:


Clicking on a volcano will give you the name and location of that particular volcano.


Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Ash Forecast slider.

Enable the ash forecast and you can view current ash activity or activity within a period of 6, 12 or 18 hours.
Use this chart to interpret the heights for the ash forecast:

Alternatively, you can select a specific volcano and view more details information, this will be explained in the next slide.

The following information is for the selected volcano. 

Enable the Jet Streams Forecast layer to view the forecast for periods of 6,12,18 and 24 hours. You can change the intervals by using the plus and minus buttons.

Interaction 2Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Jet Streams Forecast slider.

You will be able to see some useful information about the winds by clicking on one of the images. This will bring up some detailed information.


Interaction 2 Click the Jet Streams Forecast slider.

The Surface Visibility Forecast layer works similarly to other layers you have already explored. Enable it now to see how the information it provides can help you. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Surface Visibility Forecast slider.

The Surface Visibility Forecast layers shows you colored shapes representing different surface visibility. This indicates a forecast for LIFR (low instrument flight rules) IFR (instrument flight rules) MVFR (marginal flight rules) and VFR (visual flight rules).

You can display the forecast for up to 24 hours ahead. 

Click + to advance the forecast to show conditions 6 hours from now. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the plus (+) button.

Notice the color changes on the map, reflecting the changes in surface visibility. 

Hover your mouse over one of the colored areas; for this example, a red zone.

N-Tracking displays detailed information: MVFR are in effect for this area. 

Next, hover your mouse over a purple area. LIFR apply here and visibility is less than .5 statute miles. 

The ACTIVE LAYERS pane displays the time of the last update for the information shown by the surface visibility forecast. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Layers button.

Disable the Surface Visibility Forecast layer and let's move on to review the Forecast Surface Fronts layer and the information it adds to the map. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Surface Visibility Forecast slider.

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Forecast Surface Fronts slider.

Use this layer to investigate the forecast development and movement of fronts going forward. You may recall that a Current Surface Fronts layer is available in the BASIC weather tab. 
 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.

Click the + button to advance to show the forecast for 12 hours out. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the plus (+) button.

In the next 12 hours, a cold front is expected to move in. 

Next, click the + button again to show conditions forecast for 18 hours in the future. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the plus (+) button.

Six hours later, another cold front will be affecting some states in the Southern U.S. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the plus (+) button.

Click the plus (+) button again and you see the forecast for a full 24 hours in the future. 

Hover your mouse over the cold front and N-Tracking displays some detailed information on-screen.

The map also shows some troughs developing (look for dashed brown lines). 

Next, enable the Forecast ceiling layer. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Forecast ceiling slider.

The shapes shown in the Forecast ceiling layer indicate where

        low instrument flight rules (LIFR)

        instrument flight rules (IFR), and

        marginal visual flight rules (MVFR) apply. 

Forecast ceiling information is available for North America and Europe only.

Hover your mouse over one of the colored areas and N-Tracking displays more details on-screen.

In this particular area, MVFR apply and the ceiling is 2,000 to 3,000 feet. 

The colors provide information on the ceiling height and which flight rules are applicable.


Hover your mouse over a red colored area and use the information that N-Tracking displays on-screen. 

As you did with the previous layers, click the + button to advance the forecast further into the future. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the plus (+) button.

Notice the changes in the colors on the map.

Once again, if you hover your mouse over an area of interest, details display on the map. 

Disable the Forecast ceiling layer to conclude your exploration of all the options available for your use in the REGIONAL weather tab. 

Interaction 1

Interaction 1 Click the Forecast ceiling slider.

You have learned how to work with all the different weather layers available to you in the REGIONAL tab of the Layers menu. 

Any weather layer you enable displays on-screen in the ACTIVE LAYERS pane and you can show or hide the list of layers to suit your preference.

You have explored how to use the time offset controls (the plus and minus buttons) to review weather forecast in the future, and then to return the images displayed to show current conditions.

If you have already review all the weather layers included in your basic weather subscription, the next topic you should review is Weather hazards.

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