Pilot's tip of the week

Why TAFs Get Amended

Featuring

Subscriber question:

"What are the criteria for updating a TAF? It seems like they get amended more frequently these days." — Phil T.

Scott:

“TAFs are routinely issued by the National Weather Service every six hours. Between those issue times, they may be amended for many conditions that were not accurately forecast. These include discrete flight category value changes for VFR, Marginal VFR, IFR,  and Low IFR, which have significant operational impact for IFR operations. If thunderstorms occur that weren’t forecast—or don’t occur when they were forecast—an amendment is required. The same holds true for freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and ice pellets.

Forecasters and pilots understand that wind can fluctuate continuously throughout the day. So forecasters are careful not to amend the TAF due to a change in wind direction or wind speed that is short-lived. However, when the actual mean wind direction differs from the forecast by 30 degrees or more, with an accompanying mean wind speed of 13 knots or greater, the TAF will likely be amended. Similar to the wind direction, when the actual mean wind speed differs from the forecast by 11 knots or greater and the original wind speed, or newly expected wind speed is greater than 13 knots, the TAF will likely be amended. Essentially, this means that when the winds are light, don’t expect the TAF to be amended even if they are 180 degrees in the wrong direction.

Sometimes what looks like an amendment isn’t one at all. For the Chicago, Atlanta, and New York City terminal areas, TAFs are now issued every two or three hours. The forecast is issued as an amended forecast, not a newly constructed TAF. That’s why it seems there are more amendments than in the past. A terminal forecast tagged with AMD may not be because the previous forecast was misaligned with reality. It simply may be a new and improved forecast for you to ponder. “

Do you think TAFs usually get the forecast correct?

Get the Pilot’s Tip of the Week

If you’re not subscribed to the Pilot’s Tip of the Week, sign up here to receive tips like this every week along with videos, quizzes and more.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.