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8 Signs Of Turbulence Ahead

If you see these, you've got a rough ride ahead...

1) Strong Windward Flow Over Mountains

As air flows over the tops of mountains, traveling down the leeward side, a standing mountain wave is formed and air currents oscillate between altitudes. Mountain waves and turbulence can extend for hundreds of miles downwind of the mountain range.


2) Dark Terrain Ahead On A Hot Day

Localized columns of convective current (picture a rising column of warm air) result from surface heating or cold air moving over warmer ground. For every rising current, there is a compensating downward current usually slower in speed, since it covers a broader area, causing turbulence.


3) Rapidly Changing Wind Direction And Speed

If you look at a winds aloft chart and notice rapidly changing windspeed and direction between adjacent altitudes, expect turbulence and windshear.


4) Poor Ride Reports

Listen to local radio transmissions and PIREPs for turbulence. Giving ATC a brief report of conditions can help everyone behind you following your route.


5) Strong Surface Winds With Obstructions Nearby

When the air near the surface of the Earth flows over obstructions, such as bluffs, hills, mountains, or buildings, the normal horizontal wind flow is disturbed and transformed into a complicated pattern of eddies and other irregular air movements.

6) Frontal Passage

Frontal turbulence is caused by lifting of warm air, a frontal surface leading to instability, or the abrupt wind shift between the warm and cold air masses. The most severe cases of frontal turbulence are generally associated with fast-moving cold fronts.


7) Temperature Inversion

Even though a temperature inversion produces a stable atmosphere, inversions can cause turbulence at the boundary between the inversion layer and the surrounding atmosphere.

S/V Moonrise / JohanTheGhost

8) Jagged Clouds With Rolling Edges

If you see clouds that look jagged and aren't a solid, smooth shape, it's a good indication that turbulent conditions exist. Avoid flying in or around areas that have Kelvin-Helmholtz Waves, or modifications of their shape.


How do you know turbulence is ahead? Tell us in the comments below.

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