Here are useful URL’s provided by an avid racer to understand the daily air mass and to forecast XC potential or daily Racing strategy considerations. These should be checked in the sequence shown (from big picture to detailed analysis).
- Start with the national synoptic picture to understand fronts and air masses.
- Check how the fronts are moving over the next 12 – 48 hours.
- Next, review the satellite imagery to see movement of clouds, especially high cirrus.
- Check the civilian forecasts here and especially look at the Meteograms on this site that compare the various models.
- Read the Forecast Discussion here and then go to the Tabular Forecast and calculate cloudbases each hour by using the Temp/Dewpoint spread here (220 feet per degree Fahrenheit).
- See what the other pilots will be seeing in XCSkies with focus on geographic analysis (which area is best (I focus on Thermal Heights and Cloud bases and don’t pay much attention to Lift Strength).
- Look at the soundings (Op40 RAP) and analyze the atmosphere for low, mid and high clouds, strength of inversion, height by time of day, etc.)
- Look at the RAP fields or the HRRR fields further down. Particularly focus on the HRRR Max Updraft fields to see the streets and plan your flight strategy.
- And if you have time, or to check some specific risk factors, here are some optional additional sites (a few among many candidates!)