Here we are closing in on Winter and I want to do a flight up north from the warm comforts of MS. My problem is my lack of experience in decision making for “winter flying”.
I have looked / read books on icing and all that good stuff, but nothing that I have seen helps make a good “sound” decision whether to undertake a 700 nm trip in the winter.
Eliminating the obvious typical N’easter or massive lake effect snow event in Ohio and also recognizing my own limits of not hesitating to go down to approach “minimums” on those low stratiform days, how does one make a reasonably sound decision in a typical single engine plane on a forecast like the following for Stuebenville, OH:
Saturday: Showers, mainly before 4pm. Temperature falling to around 44 by 5pm. West wind between 7 and 15 mph. Chance of precipitation is 100%. New rainfall amounts between a quarter and half of an inch possible.
Saturday Night: Rain showers likely before midnight, then a chance of snow showers. Cloudy, with a low around 33. West wind around 14 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New snow accumulation of less than one inch possible.
Sunday: A chance of snow showers, mainly before 1pm. Cloudy, with a high near 39. West wind between 14 and 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Sunday Night: A slight chance of snow showers after 2am. Cloudy, with a low around 29. West wind between 9 and 13 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Monday: A chance of snow showers before 11am, then rain and snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a high near 39. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
Monday Night: Snow showers likely. Cloudy, with a low around 29. Chance of precipitation is 60%.
Tuesday: A chance of snow showers. Cloudy, with a high near 32. Chance of precipitation is 50%.
Tuesday Night: A chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 20. Chance of precipitation is 40%.
When I evaluate the above forecast looking at Saturday and Saturday night, if the freezing level was above my flight level of 7000 (not very likely) it would be a no brainer, launch. If the freezing level was below OROCA or MEA, no brainer stay in MS.
It’s the Sunday through Tuesday night period that seems to put a kink “planning” a safe and sound flight. Is it safe to fly in snow with temperatures projected to be below freezing at cruise altitude?
I’d think the perpetual “zulu” airmet that hangs around the NE section of the country would pretty much ground me for that “known or forecasted” icing issues. I suspect for Monday and Tuesday, the freezing level would be 2000 AGL using normal adiabatic lapse rates.
The way I understand the snow making process, the temperature is actually warmer at the cloud tops. Would that up the risk of icing or would I even find a band of icing on my descent?
I would think “snow” itself is not an issue (unless it’s really heavy snow) but would the cloud vapor between snow flakes up that risk of icing being that it’s “visible moisture” causing an airmet zulu to be issued ???
Airplane engine question as well. I run Phillips XC. Would I need to change the weight of my oil to account for the colder weather? Thinner better in this case?
In my flight planning, I always check freezing level, check airmets and any other resources and realize “one shoe doesn’t fit all” but how do others plan to fly in (and around snow showers?)
Are there any common links I can look for in making sound decisions for winter flying.
I have only had one icing experience and it was only “refrigerator ice” that I saw as I was skimming cloud tops. Quick request to center for higher and “problem solved”.
Any insight most appreciated.