Friday, August 05, 2005

Thunderstorms in the morning

I ended up staying in Jacksonville for the night. I had sort've kicked myself for getting a rental car earlier, figuring I would just lose the money on that. I spent another 4 hours sitting around the airport, helping myself to complimentary iced tea, coffee, and snacks, and and waiting for a hole in the weather. It had just become good enough on the radar that I thought I might be able to manage it, if I swung about 60 miles to the south. I'd already packed the plane when I called a briefer, who promptly talked me out of it. (I wasn't hard to convince though). Then Scott called, and told me he was staying the night. We planned to have me show up there by 7am today. That meant I would have to get up way too early, so I could actually be in the plane by dark-o-clock.

So, up a 4am, flight planning by 4:45, in the plane at 5:20. 5:35 departure. As I was climbing through a low scattered layer of clouds, I looked west toward my destination, and saw an impressive lightning show. From that vantage, I couldn't tell how far away all the activity was, but figured it to be about 100 miles. About the right distance to my destination. Before long, I was over a widespread layer of ground fog, and figured on the flight getting interesting. Just before setting up for the GPS approach, I knew the storms would be no factor, but the fog might. In the end, the line of fog was less than half a mile from the airport, but the airport was clear.

I had about 2 minutes to start fueling the plane before Scott showed up. The flight plans I had filed gave me a 7am departure from there, and we hit that right on. After climbing to our cruising altitude of 5,000 feet, we could make out a couple of nasty storms over toward the coast, including one that looked to be headed right toward Jacksonville. Good thing I left early.

Next stop was Columbia, SC for a quick fuel stop and leg stretch. We managed to get out of there only 10 minutes after my flight plan time. Another couple hours, and we were back home. The return was really uneventful, which is exactly what you want sometimes. The biggest event was 10 seconds worth of light rain over Georgia.

Overall, I flew 12.4 hours, visited seven new airports in two new states. Not bad. Scott has a trip coming up before too long to Mississippi, and that will add another. Now I need to find a way to get up to Maine.


At 5:21 PM, Anonymous Ruth Holman said...


Good you got in a lot of flight time but shame you didn't get down to the Florida Keys. The weather in the US sounds quite different for flying from here. But I guess that comes because we're a maritime country and US is a Continent. Way more ground to heat up there! (Excuse my ignorance I haven't done my Met study yet LOL). Winds are far more likely to be a factor here, and fog in certain parts of the country in winter. But thunderstorms? Hardly ever. In the part of the country where I live, low cloud on the hills immediately behind the airfield is a factor as is low cloud over Kapiti Island, an island about 10kms long and about 6 kms from the AD, which hampers downwind a lot- it also interrupts the wind flow and causes a lot of turbulence sometimes.
And then sometimes like today it's a perfect winter day-cool, calm and sunny. Hmm-I have no miney to fly though LOL. Ah well, there'll be other good days.


At 12:33 PM, Blogger also-known-as said...


Being near the ocean is actually one of the reasons Florida has so many thunderstorms. But there are three things you need for a storm to develop: unstable atmosphere, moisture and a source of lift (convection). Storms are very common throughout the US all summer long, but Florida is far beyond normal. Central Florida has the second highest density of lightning strikes of anywhere in the world.

On this trip, I noticed we always had onshore winds. From both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. So the winds were pushing all the moisture inland. I'm accustomed to having storms in the midafternoon in Virginia, but it is rare to see one before noon.

You are not as likely to see storms there, I would guess, due to being so far south. Just not enough solar radiation in the summer to create that kind of instability. I'm sure there are other factors also though. If you traveled north toward Indonesia, you would see much more activity.


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