Was an interesting cross country from Moline to Windham Ct on Sunday.
We were IFR @ 11000 [9490P] and took off @ 8.40CDT for home. Wx was good til we got to BKL. Clouds then started building. I did a few 10 degree diverts and then went to the storm scope and it showed lots of activity building @ SLT VOR and eastward.
Technology is big on my panel. We have a GNS530 with a GPSS autopilot function, an HSI along with a WX-500 storm scope and a S-Tec 60-2 autopilot with altitude preselect. Rounding out the technology is a GPS396 with XM weather. I used all of it, including the brain inside my head, and 35 years of being a weather buff and knowing some of the physics of the storms.
There was a stalled front from Cleveland across PA to Long Island. The XM WX showed lots of storms building from LHY into NY, to NYC across Long Island. I asked for and got 12000 eastbound to stay above the rapidly building cumulus. I visually saw the TSRA at SLT and the stormscope was showing stikes and cells out to 200nm in a line stretching from SLT-IPT-JFK-FRG. Another rain shower had popped up in western CT.
I looked at METARs from airports in western NY north of the PA line and saw clear skies, or sct5000 - which is normal summer inland wx. So I asked for diversion direct SFK and we flew through some moderate turbulence as we could not avoid some of the buildups. My biggest fear was that the cumulus would all sudden blossom around me - giving me no place to go. The line of clouds was about 50 nm wide and I was in the middle of it. This is where brains came in - I watched the clouds around me and they were going up at no more than 200-300fpm - I could out climb in my Comanche, so I figured if it got bad I could go up and head straight for the exit. I still had most blue sky around me and could do-si-do around the clouds.
We crashed through one especially turbulent cloud and then broke into an area with haze at about 10000, which had capped the building cumulus north of the frontal trace.
At this point, the storm scope was going crazy with rates as high as 38-45. There were storms every 2030nm along the line I indicated earlier, which was essentially my route home.
The nexrad displayed cells, there was a convective sigmet now in effect, and I could see and hear NYC bound jetliners holding at SLT above me. I later found out there was 2-3 hour delays into the NYCCT airports due to the TSRA - another reason for GA. We had no ATC delays.
I used the storm scope together with the nexrad, saw how nexrad was displaying radar cell movement, and looked at the chart and called ATC with a new routing request. After a couple minutes they got back to me cleared as filed. Another good reason to be able to go /G. My route took me north of most of the activity and then in between 2 essentially stationary cells over western CT and NE CT near Worcester, MA. I remained in the clear skies most of the time which helped with storm avoidance.
During the descent, there were several little pop-up storms here and there which ATC got us through with a little negotiation. At one point Bradley wanted to turn me directly into the storm and I asked them for a different heading - they told me their scope showed only level 2 - and I told them we were 20nm away from it in clear skies and getting constant light turbulence and there was no way I taking that heading.
BDL then gave a about ten degrees left and we split the difference between 2 storms. Ahead of us was another TSRA 16nm away from my destination airport and heading away from it at only 5knots. When I checked the weather when I was 50 and 35nm out it was wind calm. when I checked it 20 nm out it was 200@9 and then when I was 10 out it was up to 190@11G14.
I kept my speed up and landed to the south smoothly and the storm never got to the airfield.
All in all a safe arrival that used every bit of technology on the airplane for weather avoidance. The lesson to be learned is that without the storm scope and XM WX it would have been the blind leading the blind as to wx location and what was really happening. Flying blind, like people did for 99 years, seems pretty risky now.