Thunderstorms in a Cessna?

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
Heya everyone,


I've been wondering latley what methods people have for poking their way around thunderstorms in the clouds. Obviously they are not something that you want to penatrate, but do a forecast of thunderstorms in an area ground you completly or is there a way to get around the things?

My instructor was REALLY paranoid of thunderstorms, and if there was any convective activity within about 200 miles of us we'd cancel flights. I can't imagine that everyone does that, and there has to be a way around the things.

Cheers

John Herreshoff
 

pilot602

If specified, this will replace the title that
Airport hop or "follow the baron" are about your only choices if you don't have at least a stormscope.

Edit:

But like Paul says below ... in a Cessna you just don't have the speed to circumnavigate anything but the smallest storms.

If it were me I'd probably try to stay in VMC and try to pick my way through stopping at airports, checking the radar, along the way.
 

Parabellum

New Member
I've had to dodge a few thunderstorms in a 172 more than once. Whether or not you can get around them depends entirely on the size and movement of the storm cells. If the cells are a big squall line extending for several miles, you may as well forget trying circumnavigate them in a Cessna because its just not possible. They key is that if you feel that you're too close to a thunderstorm that your comfort zone allows, turn away immedietly. It typically doesn't take long at all to completely escape from a storm cell, but you have to make the decision to turn away before you get into the worst part of the storm.

My most recent thunderstorm encounter was during a flight while I was doing my instrument training. It was my first time in actual IMC conditions, and when we were headed back to the airport, there was an embedded thunderstorm ahead of us moving toward the northwest. Since the storm was embedded, it took us by complete surprise. However, we turned away from it to the northeast and were able to find some clear weather to where we could make a visual approach and landing to our home airport. Interestingly enough, the ground in the clear was completely covered with hail.

Its just like the old saying goes. Never be afraid to make a 180 degree turn.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
John, I generally tell ATC that I am not radar equipped and would appreciate them giving me vectors around anything higher than a level 2.

Try that.

R2F
 

Alchemy

Partner, Ally, Friend
The day of my commercial checkride, the area around the airport was pretty convective, but just before I left I checked the radar and it looked like there was a clearing to the airport where I had to fly and meet the examiner.

Right before I took off, I noticed lightning strikes in the vicinity. I was kind of nervous, but since I was on an IFR flight plan in the vicinity of a busy aerdome, ATC was very helpful in vectoring me around the worst of it. I logged about .8 hrs actual on that 1.1 hour flight, and it all went really well. In summary, ask for and use ATC vectors around thunderstorms whenever possible. If your CFI cancels a local training flight because of a thunderstorm 100 NM away, something is wrong. Just use a 20 NM "Circle of Safety" from thunderstorm cells referencing the radar summary chart before you leave. If your route won't take you within 20 NM of a cell, you're probably good to go (be sure to account for cell movement when you're planning, of course).
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
John, I generally tell ATC that I am not radar equipped and would appreciate them giving me vectors around anything higher than a level 2.

Try that.

R2F

[/ QUOTE ]

John: Convective activity within 200nm forcing a flight cancellation is a little too conservative, IMO.

R2F: Not bad to do, but ATC radar isn't optimised for WX cells, and there's stuff they could very well miss, not to mention many other aircraft probably expecting the same service. Good back-up, but wouldn't personally lean on too much. Night, of course, would be a different story in some respects. Also, actual IMC, same thing about good idea to help avoid the embeddeds.
 

Parabellum

New Member
Just keep in mind that ATCs ability to provide you assistance to circumnavigate a storm may be limited at times, especially if you're in a terminal area where there's a big cell and 10 million other airplanes are trying to get vectors around it. It can increase their workload in a big hurry. In fact, I believe there's even a test question on the instrument rating knowledge test concerning that.

It seems like most of the time though, ATC can be reasonably helpful when you need them to be.
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
If you do alot of flying in the south or southeast, you pretty much have to get comfortable with the idea of dodging thunderstorms, or not flying for about half of the year.

This last thursday night I flew from Nashville down to Valdosta, GA and flew back up on Friday morning/afternoon. There were thunderstorms EVERYWHERE!!!! If anyone is in the region, you remember what the radar looked like. Well, the folks at Atlanta Approach, JAX Center and ATL Center were extremely helpful for the most part (considering how busy they were), and allowed me to deviate around any weather that I didn't feel I could handle. As long as I was at 8,000 I was able to stay clear of most of the low scud, and see any of the larger buildups. That kept me away from anything that could bend the wings. About 30 miles east of ATL, however, I had to descend to 5,000 in order to keep clear of their arrival corridor. That made life a little more difficult.

On my second leg, after a fuel stop in Calhoun, GA , I climbed to my filed altitude of 8,000 feet but found that I really couldn't dodge enough as I was in the clouds more than I was out. So, up to 10,000 I went!!! it was much better there....I could see the cells, and keep my distance. Smooth air, not too bad of a groundspeed, and with 50 Cent and the Beach Boys playing in the intercom, all was well in the world!!!

It does get more difficult when there clouds aren't broken at all, and the storms are embedded. I flew one time out to Memohis, and I was IMC for the entire trip (both ways...). On the trip out, I don't think I ever broke 70 knots GS. The eerie thing was that I could see and occasional lightning flash in the distance to the north, and center was getting pretty tired of me asking what they had on their radar picture. All of the convection was at least 30 miles north of my route, but when you're in the dark and can't tell the distance, it can keep you awake.

One thing that alot of pilots refuse to do (or have forgotten) is to take a few minutes and talk to flight service or flight watch. It's not as good as having weather radar on board, but if you tell them your exact location and route, they can point out all of the weather better than ATC can, and let you know what kind of deviations will work for you. You can make it your own personal weather radar!!!

My advice would be to always have an out....make sure you know where the good weather is, and that you're prepared to land at a moment's notice. Have enough fuel to deviate and still get to your destination...and an alternate!! That can be a challenge sometimes, especially if you like to stretch the legs of your aircraft. I like to take the Skyhawk on long trips, and I wouldn't feel comfortable in the plane that I fly all the time without knowing exactly how long that engine will run before I need to fill up again. You don't want to find that out when you've deviated 50 miles east of course, and then the 10 knot tailwind you planned for has become a 30 knot headwind.

Keep the charts out, keep your ears on the radio, and be safe!!! You never need to get someplace bad enough to go through a thunderstorm. You really don't....
 
G

Guest

Guest
[ QUOTE ]
John, I generally tell ATC that I am not radar equipped and would appreciate them giving me vectors around anything higher than a level 2.

Try that.

R2F


[/ QUOTE ]

hasn't that bitten you in the rear once or twice before? As in ATC vectored you straight into a cell?
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
John, I generally tell ATC that I am not radar equipped and would appreciate them giving me vectors around anything higher than a level 2.

Try that.

R2F


[/ QUOTE ]

hasn't that bitten you in the rear once or twice before? As in ATC vectored you straight into a cell?

[/ QUOTE ]

Naw, c'mon.....ATC doing that? Surely you jest.
 

ready2fly

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
R2F: Not bad to do, but ATC radar isn't optimised for WX cells, and there's stuff they could very well miss, not to mention many other aircraft probably expecting the same service. Good back-up, but wouldn't personally lean on too much. Night, of course, would be a different story in some respects. Also, actual IMC, same thing about good idea to help avoid the embeddeds.

[/ QUOTE ]
Good to know! Thanks, MikeD!!

Learnin' more every day and lovin' it!!


[ QUOTE ]
hasn't that bitten you in the rear once or twice before? As in ATC vectored you straight into a cell?

[/ QUOTE ]

Sort of....that was before I was Instrument Rated (the week before the ride) and I was doing flight following on a x/c. I told them that I was not IR and I remained VFR for the duration, but - yeah, they did vector me directly towards the cell.

Good point.
 

aviator

New Member
[ QUOTE ]
and with 50 Cent and the Beach Boys playing in the intercom, all was well in the world!!!


[/ QUOTE ]

Kind of an odd mix of music........
 

mtsu_av8er

Well-Known Member
[ QUOTE ]
[ QUOTE ]
and with 50 Cent and the Beach Boys playing in the intercom, all was well in the world!!!


[/ QUOTE ]

Kind of an odd mix of music........


[/ QUOTE ]

Yeah....I get that alot...lol. You'd be amazed at my music collection...
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
Heya everyone,


Thanks for the great replies. In response to a few:

MikeD: Yeah, I'm done with this instructor. I think she's a great instructor, but is too scared at this point to really help me move on. The FBO she fly's out of also has the crapiest planes EVER, and is not what I'm looking to be renting anymore. I've found an FBO with good flight instructors (from what I hear from friends) and they are not afraid to spend money on fixing aircraft, something that is new to me.

MTSU: Thanks for the input man. Sorry I never got back to you about when I was gonna fly down into MTSU. The flight ended up getting canceled and I completly forgot about the PM you sent me until just a few minutes ago. Thanks for the offer though!

Cheers


John Herreshoff
 
Top