Weather for Flying - Turbulence

Have you ever thought that for aeroplane pilots, every day at work is a blue-sky day? Soaring above the clouds you might think that the weather isn’t such a big deal. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. Pilots are dependent on weather information at every stage in their flights. In this blog post, we discuss one crucial aspect of aviation weather that affects both pilots and passengers – turbulence.

The nature of turbulence

Snowfall in New Zealand

New Zealand is well known for its spectacular mountain ranges especially during the winter when they are covered in a fresh layer of snow. It is not usual to see that snow level dropping down below the mountains but when it does it can cause disruption to New Zealand’s public travel networks.

Flying under the RADAR

The term RADAR stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging and was coined in 1940 by the United States Signal Corps, although it was German physicist Heinrich Hertz who showed that radio waves could be reflected from solid objects, in around 1886. During World War II, radar technology developed rapidly and has since become an essential tool in meteorology, as well as in other areas such as air traffic control.

A satellite image for every occasion

Satellites are one of a meteorologist’s best tools. Satellite images can tell us where weather systems are and how fast they are moving. They can also often help us distinguish between many things such as thick and thin clouds and high and low clouds, as well as detecting snow, fog, volcanic ash, smoke, thunderstorms, and much more.

Main types of satellite images

Sea State and Swell

The MetService team produces both coastal and recreational marine forecasts. Part of these forecasts includes the state of the sea and the swell. But what is the difference?

Firstly, it is important to understand how a wave is described. Figure one shows the different characteristics of a wave.

Understanding MetService’s Recreational Marine Forecasts

Besides the coastal waters, the MetService forecasting team produces marine forecasts for a number of smaller areas where there is a lot of recreational boating activity. These forecasts are routinely issued four times every day; they are monitored continually and updated more frequently if conditions warrant it.

Recreational Forecasts

The recreational forecasts are written for high-use recreational areas: Bay of Islands, Auckland, Coromandel, Bay of Plenty, Hawke Bay, Kapiti, Mana, Wellington, and Christchurch.

Understanding MetService's Coastal Marine Forecasts

MetService's forecasting team produces marine forecasts for New Zealand coastal waters. These forecasts are routinely issued four times every day; they are monitored continually and updated more frequently if conditions warrant it.

Coastal Forecasts

Forecasts for coastal waters cover the area from the coastline to 60 nautical miles (about 100km) out to sea. The New Zealand coast is divided into 18 areas, as shown in figure 1: