Tom Horne

Skew-Ts?! Oh No!

July 9, 2008 by Thomas A. Horne, Editor At Large

In AOPA Pilot’s July issue, my Wx Watch column topic touched on Skew-T Log-P charts. These, friends, are the meteorological equivalents of our NDB approaches! They frustrate meteorologists and pilots alike. I’ve heard graybeard meteorologists get tangled up trying to explain the MANY aspects of information that can be deciphered on Skew-Ts. And briefers? Fugeddaboutit…. a typical briefer contemplating a Skew-T would be like a frog looking at a watch.

In the column I went through brief discusssions of stability, instability, and temperature-dew point spread aloft as signs of cloudiness. I was nervous as the article went to press. Would anyone think the topic too egg-headed?

Much to my surprise I got several e-mails asking for more info, wanting clarification, and wondering how¬†hypothetical situations might appear on a Skew-T. Getting this kind of feedback was great…and it proves that many AOPA members do indeed have a curiosity about the weather that surpasses the usual in the pilot community.


One Response to “Skew-Ts?! Oh No!”

  1. Chris O'Callaghan Says:


    We glider pilots live by the Skew T. We use them to accurately predict activity in the boundary layer (and above) – thermal trigger temperature, strength, cloudbase, streeting, overdevelopment, wave, and every other little bit of weather that might affect an afternoon’s flight. NOAA’s java-based interactive Skew Ts are especially useful. Here’s a link, which includes an instruction/education manual:

    The best single treatment on Skew Ts I’ve ever come across is in the Bob Wander Gliding Pilot Mentor series – Thermals, by Rolf Hertenstein, Ph.D. Dr. Hertenstein’s treatment is very practical, succinct, and when used with the tool referenced above, thoroughly enlightening. For those of us who need thermals to fuel our progress, it’s a treasure. For those pilots who want to avoid midday turbulence, it’s very useful information.


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