With the introduction of ForeFlight Mobile 7.2 we’ve increased the resolution of the global winds and temperatures aloft. Now, flight planning calculations are more accurate than ever.
Increased temporal resolution
The horizontal and vertical resolution of the winds aloft are still the same, however, we’ve made a significant improvement by increasing the temporal (time) resolution of the forecast used within the app. At the global level, the winds aloft are still updated with a brand new forecast every 6 hours, but the forecast time step is now double the resolution at 3 hours over the entire globe.
Prior to version 7.2, winds and temperatures aloft contained a gap of 6 hours between forecast periods. That is, the winds were valid at times such as 00Z, 06Z, 12Z and 18Z or every 6 hours out to a maximum of 30 hours in the future. As you might imagine, a lot of weather can happen within a 6 hour period creating flight planning performance errors for fuel burn and time en route when interpolating over this time frame. These errors were likely more noticeable when the weather was changing rapidly along your proposed route. Now at the global level with ForeFlight Mobile 7.2 the winds will have twice the temporal resolution and will be valid at times such as 00Z, 03Z, 06Z, 09Z, etc cutting any interpolation errors essentially in half.
Even higher resolution over three continents
While the forecast time resolution was doubled throughout the world, we took it a step further and increased the temporal resolution by a factor of six over North America, Europe and Australia. That’s right, now these locations will benefit from an hourly forecast that is also updated hourly creating even more accurate results when planning a flight especially when the weather is changing rapidly. The hourly forecasts go out to a generous 12 hours in the future, then the resolution shifts to every 3 hours through 30 hours.
Higher resolution winds used under the hood
Even though we’ve increased the temporal resolution, you’ll notice that in the airport popover window under the Winds tab, the winds and temperatures aloft are only shown every 3 hours (see above). This was done, in part, to keep the display of the winds consistent throughout the world and also to avoid a lot of unnecessary scrolling to get to the latter part of the forecast. Don’t worry, even though the higher hourly resolution winds are not displayed, they are indeed used in performance calculations for route planning.
The Winds Aloft layer on the Maps view will also benefit from the higher resolution. Previously, the time chosen may have been valid several hours before or after the current time. Now the Winds Aloft layer will be able to pull from the higher resolution forecast which will be valid closer to the current time. Moreover, those winds over North America, Europe and Australia will be refreshed hourly with a new forecast.
By the way, if you don’t update ForeFlight Mobile to 7.2, you may see hourly forecasts displayed on the airport popover as shown below. That’s not an error; just a side-effect of progress. To get a more filtered view, you’ll need to update the app to version 7.2. Lastly, the FBWinds received through Stratus (FIS-B) haven’t changed as a result of this update. They are still the same lower resolution product as before. The FAA has no immediate plans to increase the temporal resolution of the winds received over ADS-B.