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5 Weather Products That Help You Determine Icing Conditions

It's your responsibility to determine if and where icing conditions exist. Make sure you're using the right weather products to determine the potential for icing conditions on your flight.

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1) Freezing Level Charts

A starting point for determining icing conditions is to take a look at the freezing level charts. Since it's winter, much of the country is covered in white, meaning that the freezing level extends all the way to the surface.

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2) Forecast Icing Potential (FIP)

The FIP (forecast icing potential charts) provides information on expected icing severity in five categories: none, trace, light, moderate, and heavy. On the display, this field can be shown for all icing probabilities or masked (gray areas) to show only icing severity at icing probabilities greater than 25 or 50%. The severity estimations are roughly based on the accretion rate of ice on an airplane, and the levels are determined by the time it would take for an airfoil to accrete 1/4 in on ice: trace, 1 h; light, 15 min-1 h; moderate, 5-15 min; and severe < 5 min.

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3) Current Icing AIRMETs/SIGMETs

You can see a graphical depiction of AIRMETs and SIGMETs to help you determine where the greatest risk of icing encounters may be found. Look at the areas of icing reported below:

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4) Current Icing PIREPs

PIREPs (pilot reports) to ATC are another good tool to use if there's a recent one along your route of flight. If you're the first one to fly the route that day, giving reports to ATC will help other pilots in line behind you.

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5) Winds and Temperatures Aloft

Deciphering winds and temperatures aloft can paint a good picture of exactly where temperature inversions and icing conditions might be found. This, in combination with other resources, can help you find areas of warm air to avoid ice.

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What are your strategies to avoid icing conditions? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below.

Swayne Martin

Swayne is an editor at Boldmethod, certified flight instructor, and an Embraer 145 First Officer for a regional airline. He graduated as an aviation major from the University of North Dakota in 2018, holds a PIC Type Rating for Cessna Citation Jets (CE-525), and is a former pilot for Mokulele Airlines. He's the author of articles, quizzes and lists on Boldmethod every week. You can reach Swayne at swayne@boldmethod.com, and follow his flying adventures on his YouTube Channel.

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