how do I know the type of clouds in a certain region?



  • I am a student pilot but new on windy, I can't figure it out!


  • Pilot

    @deltaromeo
    You can choose from several cloud layers: low/medium/high clouds, cloud base and cloud tops, or if you choose the main "Clouds" layer you will get a complex view of the clouds with the significant weather, such as rain.

    You can see only the cloud coverage in percentage given.
    I know that it's not the same that we use in aviation, where the cloud coverage is reported by the number of "oktas" (eights) of the sky that is occupied by cloud. But it's easy to compare the percentage of the coverage to how many oktas it can be.

    The indication has 4 stages:

    • FEW (few, meaning 1-2 oktas),
    • SCT (scattered, meaning 3-4 oktas)
    • BKN (broken, meaning 5-7 oktas)
    • OVC (overcast, meaning 8/8 oktas, full coverage)

    For example:
    SCT050 - means that the scattered cloud has a cloudbase of 5000 ft.
    BKN100 - means that the broken cloud has a cloudbase of 10000 ft.

    Anyway you can activate the "Airports" overlay on the bottom of the right hand side of the website page (the airplane icon next to the "forecasted weather" cloud icon), so with this option you can see the airports (small circle signs, their colours are depends on the weather related flight rules (green - VFR, blue - MVFR, red - IFR, pink - LIFR) or if the airports hasn't have weather report services, their colours are gray), and of course their weather reports (METARs, TAFs) - in which you can read the actual and previous reports, Runways infos, Webcams and NOTAMs (big advantage is you can switch in the METAR and NOTAM menus from "raw mode" to decrypted view, so it helps you to understand what it means, plus in the NOTAM menu you are able to make each NOTAM report that you want to put into "read status", so it puts a check mark to that).

    Some other useful abbreviations in aviation:
    SKC - Sky Clear
    NSC - No (nil) Significant Cloud
    CB - Cumulonimbus (big, intensive cloud type through several athmosphere layers to high altitude, this is the most dangerous type of cloud with heavy rain, ice conditions and turbulence)
    CU - Cumulus (generally low level puffy clouds, they can produce little or no precipitation, they can grow into the precipitation-bearing congestus or cumulonimbus clouds)
    TCU - Towering Cumulus (significant, intense clouds with strong updrafts, turbulence and possibility of rain)
    CAVOK - Ceiling and Visibility OK (a weather status report for pilots, when visibility is at least 10 km, there are no clouds below 5000 ft or minimum sector altitude (whichever is higher), and there is no current or forecasted significant weather such as precipitation.

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  • @deltaromeo

    ... DR,
    you must remember that METAR is a weather observation (reality)
    but
    the low, medium and high cloud cover
    (like low clouds here: https://www.windy.com/overlays?lclouds,54.150,4.526,5 )
    is a forecast product.

    Please keep in mind that forecast products:
    "visibility", "fog", "cloud tops and cloud bases"
    are difficult variables to predict.
    They are experimental products and should be used with caution.

    Always, before take-off, take a look at the latest METARs, TAFs, SIGMETs, LLSWC
    and, if available, get a wx. briefing by a weather forecaster.



  • @csabatatar thank you for this information, This will help



  • @gkikas-lgpz other than METARs,TAFs,NOTAMS that windy provides, what other important wx informations that I can get from it as a student pilot to rely on..



  • @deltaromeo
    Cloud cover + rain + lightning: give you an indication for areas you must avoid
    (especialy if you are not IFR rated).
    Wind gusts are usefull for low level turbulence predictions.
    High level (FL300) winds are usefull for jet-stream prediction.

    The latest satellite image (not provided here in windy, you can find it at sat24.com)
    is also very usefull. Spend some time to learn about VISual and IR (infrared) images.

    I think realtime lightning data (like those from blitzortung.org)
    soon will be available in windy

    Do not trust much the arithmetic values of cloud bases, visibility and fog.
    For fog predictions I prefer to use the combination of no clouds, high humidity, almost calm winds at surface and low levels (up to 2000 ft).



  • @Gkikas-LGPZ
    you're right, as a VFR student pilot Cloud cover + rain + lightning information will make my day better..


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