Aviation Weather Services

<< Back to Pilot Ground School

1800wxbrief.com is probably the most useful website that you will use in flight planning. As pilot in command, you will be responsible for obtaining all important information prior to a flight. Probably the most important of that information is about the weather. Make a habit of getting a briefing every day, even on days when you will not be flying!

1 (800) 992-7433 is the phone number of 1800wxbrief. Use it to call a briefer to get an actual human being to walk you through your weather briefing. Identify yourself as a student pilot to receive more help from the briefer. This is especially useful on days when you are at your personal weather minimums and can’t decide if you should make a flight or not.

How to Obtain a Good Weather Briefing (PDF) – This document gives you some good information about how to obtain a weather briefing, the information you’ll need before calling, what to expect over the phone, and some guidance on making a “go/no-go” decision.

AWOS/ASOS – These are automated weather services provided at most airports. Many of them have a telephone number that you can call to obtain the most recent weather conditions at the airport. For example, Aurora Airport has an ASOS that you can dial up at (630) 466-5622. Calling to obtain updated weather, and understanding what is reported, will make you a more competent pilot.

358-782 is a number you can text to obtain a METAR. Just text “MT KARR” for the Aurora Metar. Replace KARR with a 4-letter ICAO identifier for any airport. Text “MT KARR PT” to obtain the METAR in plain text. Note: this does not constitute a legal weather briefing! Supplement this with an official briefing at 1800wxbrief.com or by calling Flight Service.

What is the Difference Between ATIS, ASOS and AWOS? – This post explains the differences between the automated weather systems that we are likely to encounter in our flights.

Surface Weather Observation Stations – This searchable database from the FAA shows ASOS and AWOS stations and their accompanying frequencies and telephone numbers (when available).

Graphical Forecasts for Aviation – These graphs show weather observations such as METARs, PIREPs, radar and satellite imagery as well as SIGMETs and AIRMETs. This is a useful graphical tool to use as part of your preflight planning.

Aviation Forecast Discussions – Click on the section of the map where you will be flying to obtain a somewhat detailed explanation (written by a real life meteorologist) of the forecasted weather in that area. This can help add some context to all of the METARs and TAFs that you have been reading.

AviationWeather.gov has just about all of the weather information that you might need for your flight. I recommend looking at the forecasts and charts on this website in conjunction with your weather briefing that you obtained from 1800wxbrief. Check the weather products here even on days when you will not fly.

Aviation Weather Handbook (PDF) – There is now a FAA handbook that covers information previously included in advisory circulars such as Aviation Weather Services, Thunderstorms, etc.

SkyVector – This website contains VFR and IFR charts and allows overlays with current weather (METAR and TAFs as well as radar and satellite), TFRs, AIRMET and SIGMETs. It also allows for limited flight planning between two airports by displaying the distance between the two points and the true course.

Weather Abbreviations – An explanation of common and not-so-common abbreviations that you may see in weather products such as METARs, PIREPs, and TAFs.