May 2009 Issue

Living With Nexrad

I finally got around to catching up on back issues, and came across "Soft Spot" (Editor’s Log, January 2009), having spent June through September flying from Alaska to and around the lower 48. I relied heavily on my Garmin 496. On August 24, 2008, I had a short leg from Springfield, Mo., to Marion County, Ark. Nexrad showed a line of cells marching across the middle of my flight path. Between the weather briefing and the animated radar, I knew these were moving to the southwest, and I knew the speed of their movement. Space between the cells looked pretty good, so I anticipated I could find a decent path through. Given the technology’s delays in displaying radar data on the 496, I chose a path just on the back (upwind) side of one of the displayed cells. I figured it would have moved on from my path and I could get through the gap before the next one arrived. This worked exactly as expected, putting me essentially in the clear area between the two. This meant my flight path headed southeast, instead of almost directly south, from Springfield. The diversion added very little to the flight time, but made the VFR flight very comfortable.

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