Reading the Weather

By Scott Spangler on January 9th, 2023

It is that time of year when Mother Nature is in a gray and gloomy mood that sucks the Vitamin D out of your soul. The Scots, who know something about unpleasant weather, have a word for it—dreich—that beat glaikit, scunnered, and shoogle as the most iconic Scots word in 2019. Pronounced ˈdrēḵ, it means wet, dull, gloomy, dismal, dreary, or any combination of these conditions. In other words, weather well past ugly and dispiriting.

So motivated and looking for something to pass the weekend until the Packers play their make-or-break regular season game that determines their post-season play, I wandered over to the FAA website to see if it had published any new Aviation Handbooks & Manuals. Scrolling through the titles I search for new publication dates or change/addition dates.

When I find a new edition, I download the PDF (this frugal and immediate gratification is one of the internet’s redeeming features) and page through it to see what’s new, what’s changed, and how much I’ve forgotten since I last turned its pages, a date also provided by the publication and or change dates. It may seem silly, but since the internet started providing me with free copies of these fundamental aviation knowledge sources, it is part of my recurrent and knowledge refreshment program.

And if there is something new, it gives me something productive to do on a dreich weekend. BINGO! FAA-H-8083-28 Aviation Weather Handbook – 12/21/2022.

Clocking in at 31.09 MB, the 2022 edition counts 532 pages, more than enough to keep me busy until the Packers’ primetime kickoff on Sunday night. Oh, this is new! The handbook consolidates six advisory circulars in a single-source reference for Aviation Weather (AC 00-6), Thunderstorms (AC 00-24), Clear Air Turbulence Avoidance (AC 00-30), Aviation Weather Services (AC 00-45), Pilot Windshear Guide (AC 00-54), and Hazardous Mountain Winds (AC 00-57).

Hmm, I haven’t read half of these, so this may take more than a weekend. Thankfully, the handbook is subdivided into three parts.

Part 1 provides an Overview of the United States Aviation Weather Service Program and Information in three chapters. Part 2 dives into Weather Theory and Aviation Hazards and explores them in Chapter 4, The Earth’s Atmosphere, to 23, Space Weather. Part 3 explains the Technical Details Relating to Weather Products and Aviation Weather Tools in Chapter 24, Observations, to Chapter 28, Aviation Weather Tools.

One of the nice things about my recurrent education plan is that it lets me start wherever my curiosity says is most compelling. In scrolling through the contents, Section 26.7, Space Weather Advisory, is unknown to me, so that’s where I’ll start. So, if you’ll excuse me…but before I go, I wonder what system you’ve devised to review and refresh your fundamental aviation knowledge. Please let me know in the comments. I’m always looking for better, more thorough and efficient ways of keeping up with aviation’s dynamic knowledge base. –Scott Spangler, Editor


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