How to check the weather before you travel

16 June 2022
How to check the weather before you travel

So, you’ve got the perfect trip booked and you’re waiting for the day you can leave. What should you do in the meantime?

If your trip is happening in the summer, you should definitely keep a close eye on the weather―both at home and at your destination. Here are two important reasons why:

  1. The risk of lightning storms, hurricanes, wildfires, and tornadoes are more common in the summer months.
  2. The summer months are the busiest travel times for most countries and wind, temperature, air pressure, and visibility are all factors that can affect your flight. 

According to FlightAware, there are between 7,782 and 8,755 commercial planes in the air at any given moment. That’s not taking into account all the other types of flights like cargo, military, and even private. If the weather affects even one airport, there’s a ripple effect through the entire commercial air flight system.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and airlines are, according to one news report, trying to find solutions. Apparently, the high number of flight cancellations and delays have raised concerns among some lawmakers. Some of the solutions include allowing airlines to fly at lower altitudes and identifying flights to delay as early as possible to avoid the cascade effect.

Now that you understand why you should check the weather, let’s cover when and how to do it before your next trip.

When you should check the weather

Experienced airline pilots recommend checking the weather just one day prior to flying. They say early information isn’t dependable.

I disagree.

While next-day weather information is helpful to a pilot, it won’t help a traveler with an extended trip that much.

Here’s one example of early information that may prove helpful to a traveler. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) forecasters are predicting an above-average hurricane season in the Atlantic this summer. 

Now, that’s helpful to a traveler.

Knowing what’s possible ahead of time gives you time to insure your trip investment and create a backup plan, even if you’re not traveling in a hurricane zone.

How you should check the weather

Ask any experienced traveler and they’ve all got a favorite weather app on their phone. Depending on the type of traveling they do, they may have more than one.

We’re not here to recommend a weather app because, like so many things, apps are personal. What we can tell you is what other travel experts do.

What airline pilots use

Peter Greenberg reports that airline pilots use weather.com. They search for the departure and arrival airports to check the very timely—right down to the hour—and very local weather conditions.

What anxious fliers use

If you’re an anxious flier with a massive dislike for turbulence, check the turbulence forecast before departure. See the middle column for information on turbulence. See the maps for thunderstorm activity and check how high they are.

Put turbulence in context: if the storm is low, as in under 350 feet in altitude, planes can fly above them. If they’re higher in altitude, in general, pilots will look for gaps or fly around them. The ride may be bumpy, but at least you’ll be prepared.

What experienced roadtrippers use

Like many people this year, you may be planning a summer road trip. If so, experienced travelers Amy and Howie recommend using Morecast’s Weather Forecast. Select the “Navigate” option and enter your final destination as well as planned stops along the way. The app will display the weather forecast along your route.

What type A planners use

For travelers who want to plan a weekend adventure, attend a special event, or run a charity race, the Weather Planner site is recommended by type A planners who crave control. The site is reportedly used by wedding planners to match the desired wedding weather to the best day and location.

To test it out, I typed in a date in July, a location, and chose “Family get-together” as the ‘why’. I discovered a high probability of heavy rain at this event, and now I’m reconsidering where to hold this year’s family reunion.

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Damian Tysdal

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.

Damian Tysdal is the founder of CoverTrip, and is a licensed agent for travel insurance (MA 1883287). He believes travel insurance should be easier to understand, and started the first travel insurance blog in 2006.