VHOJT

WX Radar & ASP4 - does AS overdo thunderstorms?

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Hi all,

Just a quick question for those who know about thunderstorms:

Is this is a realistic amount of thunderstorms for a METAR that had VCTS (thunderstorms in the vicinity).  Basically I get the impression that ActiveSky puts too many thunderstorms in a given area - it was almost impossible to get into DFW (I realise DFW can get pretty thundery).  I have noticed the same when cruising - it seems to put a wall of them around the place.  In the attached photo, the right ND is showing what I mean.

Before I get in touch with them, I thought I'd better check it's not just me assuming that there aren't that many thunderstorms in an area really.

Any advice appreciated!

https://www.dropbox.com/s/8qd3ryxiyyeid9k/2018-7-13_6-15-23-983.jpg?dl=0

Cheers,
Rudy

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19 minutes ago, VHOJT said:

Before I get in touch with them, I thought I'd better check it's not just me assuming that there aren't that many thunderstorms in an area really.

When you're talking about Mother Nature, anything is possible.  So, yes, this is you assuming that there aren't that many thunderstorms in an area really.  Mother Nature can produce any range.

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In my opinion, HiFi is populating an area of thunderstorm activity with a number of "small" storms to represent a "big" storm.  Looking at the DFW area right now on NEXRAD I see a group of storms both North and South and a long string of storms forming a system following I20 E.  Active Sky cannot make a realistic sized storm yet but they do try to represent a storm area.

Anybody that has flown with these real world can attest to the fact that they can be huge.  I've seen a single cell the size of a county, and remember the day I ran into a wall of storms that stretched from Del Rio to Chicago.  I spend the night in Midland-Odessa.

Edited by downscc
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Had a look at the NEXRAD, you're right, they are pretty big storms!!  Way bigger than the bangers we get in Australia, that's for sure!

So how do you deal with thunderstorms in the sim, Dan?  Planes weren't diverting out of DFW - there was some snaking around on FR24, but no missed approaches or diverts that I could tell.  On the NEXRAD (and I imagine to an aircraft too), you can see the less intense/reflective part of the cell in the green on the edges, and the core where you don't really want to go.  Whereas in ActiveSky, as you say, the "large" cell is made of up of lots of little mini-cells - so there's a lot more red in the way (as you can see from the screenshot) where a small cell has  an outer green, then a big red centre.  Then that's repeated over the area of the "large storm" - you end up with more red and bad returns where perhaps there ought not be?

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17 minutes ago, VHOJT said:

Way bigger than the bangers we get in Australia, that's for sure!

Haha... I bet.  Our central continent is a plain that reaches from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Pole, no obstructions to cold or cooler air coming South.  That is coupled to intense rivers of warm moist air sucked up out of the Gulf by the pressure ridges and the anticyclones created by the Northern air masses.  Those rivers of warm air become low level jet streams (around 3000 - 5000 feet) after the sun sets and the air become stratified with nothing to break up the flow.  Those low level jets run into the uplift created by the pressure ridges and due to inertia they have enough momentum to carry that moisture well up above the point where the warm air in cool air mass become volatile. The low level jets become fountains of warm moist rising air. That is when Oklahoma/Kansas get storms that can top 80,000 feet, and 60,000 is a norm.  Dallas actually sits right at the Southern border of the Central Plains.

As far as the simulator goes, realism has to go out the window because Active Sky does not yet have the fidelity it is working towards.  They paint every CB the same, deep red with no greens and yellows.  Realistically you can fly through green and maybe dark green and that's how those guys are DFW are operating.  AS doesn't give us green, only red so you just have to ignore it and keep those sliders in the AS effects down to 20%.  Also, the bases of those storms can get quite high when it is warm, above 3000 AGL in the Midwest to over 10,000 in the desert Southwest like Phoenix.  You can fly below them and simply avoid the rain shafts... weather that isn't simulated very well yet.

Edited by downscc
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1 hour ago, VHOJT said:

So how do you deal with thunderstorms in the sim, Dan?  

(Edit:  Cross posted same time as Dan above)

A lot of times you just have to fake it.  There are still many limitations to certain things in our flight sims, and realistic thunderstorm flying is one of them.  How you fake it can depend on some different recommendations and the addons you are using.  For instance...

1.  PMDG recommends turning down the sims generic turbulence settings unless you want to get shaken out of the sky.  Use a lesser turbulence setting in the Active Sky application itself.

2.  In some cases you may actually need to turn off ALL turbulence if you want an addon working in conjunction with your flight.  For me, it's Radar Contact as my ATC program.  Radar Contact has the ability for you to request a flight path deviation for weather, but the controller normally won't leave you alone long enough for you to get all the way around an Active Sky sized thunderstorm.  You will get yelled at to get back on course long before you have circumnavigated the "Big Red Splotch" on the weather radar. Or the updrafts/downdrafts will cause you to "bust" the 300 foot vertical altitude allowance from your flight plan altitude (unless you changed the tolerance setting in Radar Contact to something larger).  So you either turn off the turbulence (and aircraft damage if enabled) and fly through the "Big Red Splotch" peacefully, or you get the Radar Contact FIDO guy at the end of your flight taking your license away for disregarding ATC's instruction to follow your flight plan.  Personally, I have done both at different times.  It's fun hearing the FIDO guy cuss you out at the end of the flight sometimes.  😊

Basically, ya gotta remember it's a non-perfect sim representation of real-world flying sometimes.  Laugh it off and do what ya gotta do to fly the airplane in it. 

Edited by FalconAF

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Thanks Dan and Rick for the information!

Yes, Rick, I use 35% on the turbulence, sometimes down to 20%.

Fascinating information about your central plain, Dan!  I am going to do some further reading on it.  The US really is a place where you can get just about any type of weather.

Thanks again chaps 🙂

I am going to head over to HiFi and see what they have planned for the future...

 

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I posted over at Hifi in another guy's thread of a similar gist in "Suggestions".  Quite a few people have brought it up actually - though most people seem more concerned with the visual returns.  I would like the outer green bits to more forgiving and less intense red blobs tiled everywhere.

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Fun Subject. Very timely for me as the Florida Panhandle storms have been hard on the C310 Redux over the last few days. I actually was going to look into turning down some settings in AS tomorrow. 20-35% will give me a good place to start.

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16 minutes ago, VHOJT said:

I would like the outer green bits to more forgiving and less intense red blobs tiled everywhere.

Sometimes when you zoom in the radar range display of the PMDG aircraft you will turn a single large red splotch into multiple smaller red ones with green/clear areas around them.  I have picked my way through some Active Sky t-storms that way in the PMDG 737, especially during the descent and approach to landing phase of the flight.  The problem is this can put you in a "coffin corner" situation sometimes.  You reduce the radar range to say 20 miles and have green or empty "holes" you can fly around/between  the storm cells.  But as you are doing this and continuing forward, all of a sudden you encounter a FULL red splotch in front of you.  Nowhere to go but through it then.  That's when you will want low turbulence settings with aircraft damage turned off, unless you wanna be a smoking hole in the ground somewhere.  Reducing to the aircraft maneuvering speed won't even help in these cases with "real turbulence" value settings. 😁

Edited by FalconAF

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Interesting you mention this. This is what I had to deal with today, starting around 3 hours 31 minutes in.

 

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Great vid!  I had the same thing earlier today departing KLAS for KPHX.  My Radar Contact controller let me start a deviation around a t-storm while on the departure, but told me to get back on course long before I was around it.  I ignored his demand and he got very upset with me.  After landing in Phoenix, the Radar Contact debrief guy chewed me out mercilessly, then handed me over to the FIDO guy who took my pilot's license away.  😂   

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