Walt Rogers reports: “Remote weather support has become vastly easier these days with the Internet and the ability of Skype to conduct voice calls and share graphics. Our U.S. team captain, John Good, in fact all team captains, really need an extra pair of eyes to watch the weather and give his pilots better strategic support. Just after the New Years, I was called in to be that expert and assist the U.S. gliding team.
I was amazed at the quality of web weather services that are available for Australia. The real star of the WGC show is Matthew Scutter’s Skysight.io. It’s a highly enhanced version of Dr Jack’s RASP. All the soaring parameters are there, Max thermal height, Soarable height (Hcrit), Cu Cloud base, thermal strength, convergence, etc. Maps of these fields can be stepped through at 30 minute intervals for the current soaring day and each of the next four days. Matthew is a Google software engineer as well as a top Australian team racing pilot. He has created an easy to use highly visual user interface. Performance of Skysight has been outstanding and is the key resource for the official WGC briefings. Take a look at this sight with it’s free 7 day subscription. Available for Australia and Africa, Matthew reports that it will be coming to select regions of the U.S. this Spring.
The main commercial web service that I’ve relied on is weatherzone.gov.au. The layered tiled interface (Premium service – $16/month ñ free 20 day trial) shows 1km Satellite visible imagery, radar, lightning, observations, and model forecasts. Great resource. The Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) also has their site with precipitation maps and many other resources. Rawinsonde balloon
soundings are rare in Australia, so model soundings appears to be the main resource. There is even a 4km local model for Victoria (contest region) that I’ve used to create thermal height maps!
Each morning around 10:45 am AEDT Australian (which is 3:45pm PDT) I’m ready and fully briefed for a 10 minute Skype call with John. Team members can follow my explanations with graphics and ask questions. Although it only takes about an hour or two to prepare and deliver, I cannot resist following the outstanding Live Tracking (1 second updates) of the race. It usually runs from 2pm to 7pm AEDT which makes for a late night for the weather man!”
From US Team Captain, John Good: “Walt’s reports have been great, and very useful to the US Team. They mostly match the local forecast (which is expected, given that both represent talented meteorologists working from the same data). But Walt has several times given us details that were not included in the morning pilot briefing, and has noted a general tendency of the forecast lift strength and heights to be a bit optimistic.
We feel lucky to have his help, especially when sought on such short notice.”
Walt Rogers is a retired NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) forecaster, glider contest pilot and soaring weather forecast “guru”. He served with NWS for over 42 years retiring from managing the Los Angeles ARTCC (FAA) Center Weather Service Unit in 2010. His key expertise is in providing tailored aviation weather briefing support for special projects which have included: Voyager “Around The World” meteorologist team 1986, World Gliding Championships 1983, 1991, 2012, Perlan Steve Fossett altitude record 2004 2005, and numerous U.S. Regional National soaring contests. He is an active Discus 2A contest pilot (WX) with over 4000 hours total time. Competition wins include nine U.S. Regional championships and the 2008 Western Baron Hilton Cup. Walk currently resides in Palmdale, California.
Walt with the weather reports at a recent Hobbs contest.
Leigh’s connection to soaring and competition is through her husband, SZ, for whom she’s crewed for 44 years. She’s a passionate supporter of the US Teams and loves contest reporting. She currently resides in both Steamboat Springs, Co. and Greenville, SC.