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Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ for BalloonCast Weather:

Can I use this site instead of an official FAA briefing?

No. The balloon weather information is intended to aid in flight planning, but is not the legally required briefing. Use this as a supplement. Easy to use and easy to print. Hopefully, having a printout will help you understand the official briefing better, and ask better questions. Pilots may call 1-800-wxbrief for a complete briefing.

Why is there no forecast for my favorite airport?

Forecasts are only prepared for a modest number of airports, while current conditions are reported for a much larger group of airports. If current conditions are reported, but no forecast is shown, it usually means the government doesn't forecast for that location. I am unable to do anything about this, though your congressman might be able to. Occasionally a forecast is missing that is usually available, if so try back later and the issue should be resolved. I use the NWS' TAF forecasts on the BalloonCast and the GFS MOS (MAV) for the three day forecast.

Why can't I get winds aloft for my hometown?

Well, the government prepares very few winds aloft forecasts, so one may not be available directly over your head. In fact, there are states such as Vermont that don't have any winds aloft stations. Use several stations around you to get an accurate picture. Currently winds aloft are only operational here for the continental USA.

What is the source of the weather data?

The source material for current conditions, forecast conditions, and winds aloft is the National Weather Service's METAR, TAF, and FB products, respectively. The three day forecast is derived from the Short-range GFS Model Output Statistics (MAV), also known as the AVN or aviation model. This NWS material incorporated is not subject to copyright protection. The translation and arrangement is copyright by Rick Jones. Additionally some weather graphics are provided by and copyrighted by Intellicast, including Radar and Wind Forecasts.

Can I get reports in Zulu time (UTC) or temps in Celsius?

Yes, directions for this are at Preferences.

What if I want more than 3 stations? Or fewer?

The BalloonCast interface at the BFA website lets you pick how many weather stations you want displayed, instead of always giving you three. Try it at BFA BalloonCast.

Are Winds reported relative to True north or Magnetic North?

All winds reported here are relative to True north unless specifically labeled otherwise. The sources are METARs, TAFs, and FB reports all of which are based on True north. Magnetic declination is very large in some areas, please keep this in mind.

How do I report a problem?

If you encounter bugs in this website, please write me with the details so I can try to work it out. If you don't like the weather, you'll need to contact a higher power.

Where do I find ICAO codes?

For US ASOS sites, the FAA has a good list of ICAO airport codes. The NWS maintains a worldwide searchable database of locations here. For winds aloft I recommend the location chart for winds aloft. If you're in the continental US, just add a K to the front of the 3 letter code. In Canada, try adding a C up front.

Can I add a link to my website?

Yes, text links are fine, or you may use my banners or these buttons for linking to BalloonCast:

180 x 37: BalloonCast: Weather for balloon pilots or smaller 158 x 33: BalloonCast: Weather for Balloon Pilots

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