WeatherSpork’s station list has expanded plus METARs!

With the release of WeatherSpork version 4.4.0, you can enter any public-use airport as a waypoint on the route. That includes your departure and destination airports.  Be sure to use the four-character ICAO identifier.  For example, if you are departing out of  Wilgrove Air Park in Charlotte, North Carolina (8A6), be sure to include the leading K as shown below.

First, a little history

WeatherSpork was built from the ground up using two primary assumptions.  The first is the existence of a route.  The Route Profile, Grid and to a lesser extent, the Map view all require that there be at least a departure and destination airport defined.  Without a route of some sort, these views simply do not have a purpose.  Second, it’s assumed that the departure, destination, midpoints and any proximity (fly-by) stations all have some sort of aviation forecast.  That is, a forecast for ceilings, visibility, wind, and precipitation must exist; without these vital weather elements, the signature feature of WeatherSpork, the Wheels Up Departure Advisor, simply would not function.

These two assumptions meant that only about 2,300 airports could be entered into the route or be used as proximity stations for the Route Profile, Grid and Map views. This left our fellow Sporkies with the inability to use many public-use airports in their preflight planning.  Consequently, this meant using the “closest” airport in the app’s database which we know is not a sustainable solution.

Two-phase implementation

This change will be implemented in two discrete phases.  WeatherSpork version 4.4.0 implements Phase One and will allow you to enter most public-use airports into the route. However, they won’t have a surface-based aviation forecast as of yet.  This means that you will be able to use these airports in the 7-Day and Airport view, but there won’t be any corresponding aviation forecast (including the Meteogram view) for those airports in this release.  Therefore, in the Route Profile, Map and Grid view, they will be treated as “unavailable” and not used within the Wheels Up Departure Advisor to determine the flight condition (flight category) for that route.  For example, assume you created a route KMGC – KIMS – KAVL.  Of these three airports, only KAVL has an aviation forecast.  So in the grid view, you’ll see KMGC and KIMS grayed out as shown below.

Also, a forecast for precipitation, temperature, relative humidity, ceiling and visibility will be missing on the Route Profile view.  However, you will see the freezing level, en route advisories, winds aloft and clouds depicted for these points as shown below.

Phase two will be implemented in a future release and will provide an aviation forecast for most of the remaining public-use airports in the U.S.

Also, with this release, you’ll see we’ve added METARs to the Map view for any reporting station that has a routine observation. This includes some international airports like those in Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean (although you can’t add these international stations into the route). With the Estimated Time of Departure (ETD) Finder slid all the way to the left (shown below by the red arrow), the flight category markers represent the latest observation (or MOS forecast if no METAR is available). Clicking or tapping on those markers will show both the latest raw and decoded observation for that reporting station.  Important:  Please note that you may need to zoom in on the Map view to see the markers for some of these airports.

Once you slide the ETD Finder any amount to the right (into the future), you will notice that the stations that have an observation, but not an aviation forecast, will disappear from the map (unless they define the route).  At the moment, the Wheels Up Departure Advisor does not consider the METARs when determining the flight condition.

Scott Dennstaedt
Weather Systems Engineer

Scott Dennstaedt

View posts by Scott Dennstaedt
CFI and former NWS research meteorologist. Co-founder of WeatherSpork
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