X-Cntry Plan/Prep (KMRY: T-1 day)

Evening update

Looking at KMRY, it never did clear off today (per forecast). The best was OVC016, so an instrument approach does seem likely tomorrow. Nearby KSNS cleared off to SCT018 at 2015Z, but that wouldn’t have really helped. That means a possible IFR departure back out of MRY too.

KEMT went to marginal VFR around 1000 local, but a special VFR departure [not recommended in most cases for new VFR pilots] would have been possible. The TAFs for BUR and ONT indicated a similar pattern tomorrow, so it will be a morning evaluation as to whether VFR, special VFR or IFR is the right answer on departure.

The only AIRMET that looks to affect us so far (though they don’t yet extend far enough out) would be for IFR conditions along the coast (as already discussed above).

No TFR or NOTAM changes that will impact us. Winds seem to be turning a little more out of the south, so tailwinds on the way there seem likely (and headwind back)


I awoke this morning to cloudy gray skies. At home, we have what I would call an indefinite ceiling – hard to tell if it is actual clouds or just poor visibility. A quick check of METARs shows a mixture of overcast skies and poor visibility in the LA Basin:

KFUL 051353Z 00000KT 10SM OVC012 21/16 A2982
KPOC 051347Z 00000KT 1SM BR CLR 17/15 A2986
KBUR 051353Z 16004KT 3SM HZ OVC007
KLGB 051400Z 12003KT 10SM OVC010

El Monte’s AWOS is not yet feeding the METAR system, so I called the ATIS/AWOS number, which reported

KEMT 051432Z 00000KT 2 1/2SM CLR 20/16

In conditions like this, it’s not uncommon for KEMT visibility to improve but for a cloud layer to form right around 800 local, before burning off later.

The TAFs are just starting to cover the time period near our planned departure as I write this. ONT has a 30 hour TAF (most are still 24 hour) :

KONT 051317Z 0513/0618 26004KT 1SM BR FEW004 BKN210 
    TEMPO 0513/0516 2SM BR BKN004 
    FM051600 22005KT 3SM HZ SCT200 
    FM051900 25010KT 6SM HZ BKN200 
    FM060400 VRB04KT P6SM FEW200 
    FM060900 VRB04KT 4SM BR BKN007 
    FM061600 VRB04KT 4SM HZ SCT007

That puts the clouds breaking up around the time of our departure with marginal visibility. KBUR’s TAF only covers through 500 local tomorrow and LAX and LGB are not particularly good indicators for KEMT, but the BUR TAF

KBUR 051126Z 0512/0612 VRB03KT 5SM BR BKN007 
     FM051530 15006KT P6SM SCT010 
     FM052000 19010KT P6SM SKC 
     FM060300 14006KT P6SM SKC 
     FM061000 VRB05KT 6SM BR SCT008

hints at marginal visibility and clouds too. Most of the coastal airports along our route are showing low clouds and/or poor visibility, but the inland airports are fine

KSBA 051353Z 00000KT 4SM BR OVC004 17/16 A2981
KSMX 051351Z 00000KT 3/4SM BR VV002 14/13 A2982
KPRB 051353Z AUTO 29004KT 10SM CLR 16/09 A2981
KSNS 051353Z 25012G17KT 6SM HZ OVC012
KMRY 051424Z 25006KT 6SM HZ OVC008

The forecasts for tomorrow morning seem to be consistent with today’s conditions. KMRY’s TAF shows the clouds never clearing today:

KMRY 051138Z 0512/0612 22006KT P6SM OVC012 
     FM051800 26012KT P6SM BKN015 
     FM052100 24012KT P6SM OVC025 
     FM060100 24010KT P6SM OVC015 
     FM060400 22010KT P6SM OVC007

If those conditions continued tomorrow, we might be looking at an IFR approach into KMRY (and a VFR only pilot would be looking at alternate plans – land KSNS?)

The AIRMET forecasts only go out until late this evening, but show the surface winds staying north of MRY, but an AIRMET for turbulence covering the inland areas near our route of flight (very common to have this).


For winds aloft, the graphics for the time of our departure haven’t changed much, but the text versions start to give us some numbers that we could try out for groundspeed and wind correction, showing winds to be out of the west to southwest, increasing in strength as we go north.

FT  3000   6000   9000 
ONT 9900 2308+23 2312+18 
SBA 9900 3009+23 2609+17 
SFO 2914 2516+21 2221+17 
WJF      2611+24 2511+17

TFRs haven’t changed (Disneyland only). The NOTAM at KEMT is gone and the KMRY one’s haven’t changed.

Assessment: if we were limited to VFR flight:

  • I’d be planning for a later departure (or alternate plans)
  • I’d be looking at options to fly slightly more inland (to avoid flying over a solid undercast of clouds in some areas)
  • I’d be looking at alternate airports for landing
  • I’d be keeping an eye on the weather to see if turbulence and winds become an issue

With flying IFR a possibility:

  • The flight currently looks very doable
  • Likely a short IMC segment to get to VFR on top on departure
  • A possibility of an approach on the other end to get through clouds for a very short period
  • Turbulence a possibility
  • VMC flying most of the way
  • Evaluate fuel requirements

See the initial planning (T-5), yesterday’s analysis (T-2) and the trip report to see how it turned out.

3 thoughts on “X-Cntry Plan/Prep (KMRY: T-1 day)

  1. Did you end up going? Looking fwd to the report if so. This is a flight I’ll want to do regularly when I get my PPL. Great blog, BTW.

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