The Curious Case of Santa Ana

Wherever you fly, you’ll likely find there’s local weather knowledge that’s important to pilots that may be unknown to pilots from other areas. In the Los Angeles basin, Santa Ana winds and the marine layer (aka June Gloom) are two biggies.

Santa Ana winds are dry strong offshore winds that effect Southern California mostly in the  Fall and Winter, but can happen any time of the year. As a perfect example, we’re here in the beginning of May 2013 and getting a classic (and dangerous) Santa Ana wind event. Continue reading

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

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X-Cntry Plan/Prep (KMRY: T-2 days)

Now we’re getting into the time range where aviation oriented forecasts start to be of some use. The winds and overall weather forecasts aren’t changing much, which is to say a chance of cloud/visibility problems for VFR pilots at the time of our departure and a slight chance on our arrival at Monterey. I do see an Surface Winds AIRMET for areas north of our destination, that I might worry about moving down into the Monterey area later.


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Cross Country Planning/Prep (KMRY: T-5 days)

Pebble Beach

I’m planning a flight to Monterey (KMRY) next weekend. I’ll be taking two student pilots, with one flying each direction. Over this coming week, I’m going to use this real trip to illustrate  how I approach analyzing, planning, and flying a longer flight. Now, this is a flight I have done before, but I’ll do my best to approach it from the standpoint of flying to a new destination. This first article will be long, since there really is a lot to talk about… Continue reading