Page 42 - Nov/Dec 18 MMOPA
P. 42

approach 10,000 feet.This should
give you a good idea of the stuff
above you, looking out for the
next 10 to 40 miles. Any returns
that show up as red or magenta
should be avoided at all cost.
From this low-altitude vantage
point, your radar returns will
look a lot like your NEXRAD
display because you won’t have
any ground returns on the
display. Stuff you see on the
screen that looks like a storm IS
A STORM and should be given
the respect it deserves. Avoid it
by a healthy margin. Don’t try to look out any further than 40 miles in front of you in this zone, and plan to make tactical heading changes to circumnavigate storm cells in the 10 to 30 miles immediately in front of you.
Once you have climbed up above 10,000 feet, you are now in the LOOK OUT zone and in the same altitude range as the core of any thunderstorms in front of you. In this zone, you will now have to start dealing with “ground returns,” which can obscure any weather depictions in the same area over the ground. This is where science leads to art, and where you need to learn to TILT your radar until you can distinguish between the ground and dangerous weather.
Generally, you will want to see a clear line of ground returns about halfway up your radar screen. Therefore, TILT your radar until the front (or bottom) half of your display is mostly black, and there is a ring of mostly green
starting after that. Storm cells will still be yellow, red, and magenta farther past the black area, and will appear to blend in with the ground returns at times, but they will also continue to “march toward” your position and into
the black zone if they are above the ground. As a rough guideline, your TILT angle will be around +3 to +5 degrees up near the 10,000 feet lower end of this zone. As you climb higher toward FL250, your TILT angle will be between 0 and +2 degrees up. Keep your radar range on 80 miles in this zone until you need to make tactical heading changes, and then focus on the next 30 to 60 miles in front of you for maneuvering.
The LOOK DOWN zone is similar to the LOOK OUT zone, but as you climb higher, your TILT angle will begin to have a more pronounced downward pitch, as much as -2 degrees down. In this zone, you can also look a little further out for exceptionally tall storms, often as far as
120 miles or more. As you continue to TILT your radar down, ground returns become even more pronounced, but you can adjust your TILT up and down until you can clearly see any weather dangers as distinct from ground returns. In this zone, cities will start to reflect back and look like big storms on your radar, but they won’t “march towards you” into the black half of your screen, they will disappear long before that. Cities will also look more like wide rectangular returns and not so much like the typical oval returns of large thunderstorms. I can assure you
that eventually you will become proficient at distinguishing between earth-based objects and actual storms.
Final Thoughts
Convective activity can be extremely dangerous to your safety in flight, so you need

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