What is Weathermeister?
You're probably already familiar with the cryptic format of the standard issue METAR, TAF and numerous other weather reports. On one hand, it's understandable that this information would be transmitted in a very compact, efficient format. To that end, an encoded report is certainly...well..."efficient." But on the other hand, think about the real purpose of this information – to inform pilots and help them envision the conditions they'll be facing on any given flight. Why should we have to work so hard to decipher weather information that is so critical to flight safety?!
Let's look at some examples. Here's a sample of what DUATS considers a "plain language" decoded METAR:
That's all well and good...it reads pretty easily...but it takes half an hour just to read the whole thing. And that's just one report for one location! Let's compare that to what you get with Weathermeister:
With color-coding and a very intuitive layout, you can immediately see the important data. Red and orange – ok, there's some IMC out there. Blue in the wind column – ok, it's blowing pretty good. And consider the fact that Weathermeister just gave you 100 miles of data in the same space that DUATS gave you a single point! On Weathermeister, with just a quick glance you can get a very clear sense of the conditions.
A Brief History...
This site was originally created by Dan Checkoway, a pilot and software engineer. It's the result of more than a decade of development and refinement. It started out as a simple presentation of decoded METARs, but it has evolved dramatically from there. Over time, the level of sophisitication of the decoding logic has transformed the way pilots get their weather briefings. Numerous competitors have popped up over the years, but they are imitators at best...Weathermeister continues to blaze the trail, giving pilots what they want – how they want it.
I Have to Pay For This?
First of all, we should mention that everybody is welcome to use the "free" section of this site. If you want premium features, however, you're gonna have to cough up some bucks. Rest assured the monthly fee is very reasonable (unlike most other things in aviation...), and you definitely get what you pay for here. Note: the "free" section of this site will be maintained but will be limited, and it will no longer be enhanced. The free section will also display ads. New features and functionality and an ad-free environment will be made available only to paying subscribers.
What Do I Get For My Money?
In a nutshell, convenience. With most aviation weather services, you need to "poke around" from page to page in order to view all the info you're looking for. Even then, the way the information is presented isn't always the most intuitive. Weathermeister offers what is arguably the simplest, most easy to interpret weather interface available. When you subscribe to Weathermeister, here are some of the features you'll be able to take advantage of:
METAR and TAF Decoding. Weathermeister offers an intuitive color-coded display format that is easier to interpret than any other source of METAR or TAF data. With a quick glance, you can immediately tell if there are weather hazards in your area, or along your route of flight. Subscribers are presented with Density Altitude, Crosswind Component, and Plain Language Remarks (these features are not available on the "free" site).
Winds Aloft Decoding. There's nothing like being able to visually see headwinds and tailwinds – before you select a cruise altitude. Weathermeister decodes winds aloft data and presents it in a simple, color-coded format that makes it trivial to determine favorable altitudes.
|Sample Winds Aloft:|
Customized "Areas". You can set up your own custom areas for weather monitoring. These areas are saved to your profile for use at any time.
Customized "Routes". Not only can you monitor weather along a route of flight, but you can save these routes to your profile for use at any time. If you fly the same routes frequently, there is no need to enter the route info every time you come to the site. All of your custom routes are right there for quick selection.
Integrated Aircraft Performance Profiles. You can set up complete aircraft performance profiles, which include detailed specs on climb, cruise, and descent. You can enter as many as three different performance profiles for each aircraft you enter into the system. This performance data is used in route briefings for the new "Flight Optimizer" feature.
Flight Optimizer. When planning a flight, Weathermeister will instantly tell you exactly which altitude will be most favorable in terms of speed, economy, or both. This brand new feature is amazingly useful for "optimizing" your flying...and ultimately reducing your time and expense! Since Weathermeister knows how your different aircraft perform (by way of custom aircraft profiles), and since it knows what the winds are doing, there's no reason you should have to do the math anymore. How much will you really benefit by climbing higher, and how high should you climb? Want to save time or fuel? Let Weathermeister take the guesswork out of the equation!
|Sample Flight Optimizer Output:|
TFR Monitoring. This is a brand new offering that is intended to keep you out of trouble. With TFRs (temporary flight restrictions) popping up all too frequently, Weathermeister can keep you apprised of this information. You can set up three different types of TFR monitors:
PIREPs and AIREPs by Route or Area. Pilots out there are kindly reporting actual conditions, and Weathermeister brings this up-to-the-minute information to you in route and area briefings. It's presented in a tabular format that's very easy to interpret. Below is a sample of the decoded PIREPs along a route of flight (and the PIREPs from the RV-7 were both reported by yours truly).
NOTAM Decoding. Weathermeister includes a table of decoded NOTAMs in all area and route briefings. Whether it's a runway closure or an unlit tower off the end of the runway, Weathermeister lets you "know before you go." Below is a sample snippet of decoded NOTAMs.
NWS Forecast. If you're looking for a detailed weather outlook, Weathermeister's NWS (National Weather Service) Forecast is where it's at. The NWS Forecast picks up where the decoded TAF leaves off, projecting a full 7-day detailed weather forecast. It is displayed with useful color coding in order to make it trivial to see hazards to flight. This feature is available in both route and area briefings. Below is an example of an NWS Forecast.
Weathermeister Mobile Edition. If you have a web-enabled handset, smartphone, or PDA, you can take full advantage of the power of Weathermeister anywhere you have a signal. The "Mobile Edition" of Weathermeister is a slimmed-down but still robust version of the web site intended for use on a mobile handset. It is designed to be more usable on smaller screens, but you still have the convenience of using your stored profile data, such as your preferred home base and your aircraft performance profiles.
|To use Weathermeister Mobile Edition, simply go to:
Weather by Email. Sometimes when you're on the go, you may not have a web browser at your fingertips, but you often do have email. Got a Blackberry? Actually, any mobile handset that supports email can use this feature. Just send email to firstname.lastname@example.org, for example, with one or more airport identifiers in the subject. You'll quickly get a reply back with the weather you're looking for. Weathermeister has several different email responders for different types of weather products – METARs, TAFs, NOTAMs, area briefing, and route briefing.
No Ads! Last but certainly not least, Weathermeister subscribers don't have to deal with online ads (advertisements) like the ones that appear on the "free" section of the site. Less clutter, just the info you need!
How Much Does it Cost?
Well, that just depends on how much you need. Below is a breakdown of the prices of the various subscription plans. You can save money by taking advantage of an annual subscription (instead of "month to month"), but that's purely your choice.
|Pilot Profiles||1||1||3 +|
|Aircraft Profiles||1||3||12 +|
|Custom Routes||3||10||25 +|
|Custom Areas||4||10||25 +|
|Weather by Email||No||Yes||Yes|
Ready to give it a try? Sign Up Now and take advantage of the FREE 2-week trial!
Want to see more? Take a look at a sample briefing and then decide!
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