Daily/Hourly Forecasts, Parachute Jump Areas, and more in ForeFlight 12.11

ForeFlight 12.11 brings Daily/Hourly Forecasts for an all-purpose look at the weather, Parachute Jump Areas and Airport Hotspot details on the Aeronautical Map, and more.

Daily/Hourly Forecasts

Get a detailed 10 day, hour-by-hour forecast for anywhere in the world for flight planning or just keeping tabs on daily weather.

Daily/Hourly Forecasts are available with all ForeFlight subscription plans except for the discontinued Legacy Basic ($74.99) and Legacy Pro ($149.99) plans for individuals.

You can access Daily Forecasts from the Daily tab in the Airport Weather view, which provides a tappable summary of each day’s forecast; 

from the Add to Route popup after tap-holding anywhere on the map; 

from the Nearby Airports list in the top-right corner of the Airports view, which shows the forecast for your current location; 

and from ForeFlight’s Quick Actions list after tap-holding on the app icon, which provides an even faster shortcut to view your local forecast.

The Forecast window is divided into three rows: Daily Forecasts at the bottom, Hourly Forecasts in the middle, and Hourly Forecast details at the top. The row of Daily Forecasts provides graphical depictions of each day’s general weather, as well as daily temperature ranges. The multi-colored band along the very bottom of this row depicts changes in flight category throughout each day, with green, blue, red, and magenta representing VFR, marginal VFR, IFR, and low IFR, respectively. Tap on any Daily Forecast to automatically scroll to it in Hourly Forecasts and select a morning forecast period.

The row of Hourly Forecasts in the middle provides more details about each forecast period in its own column. Tap on each column to view complete details about it and highlight the appropriate cell in the Daily Forecasts row. 

The timestamp in the top-right corner of the window shows how long ago the entire 10-day forecast was downloaded. When you Pack for a flight ForeFlight downloads the latest Daily Forecasts for any airports included in your route, which you can then view offline for up to 24 hours after packing.

ForeFlight also uses Daily and Hourly Forecasts to improve the accuracy of Takeoff and Landing Performance calculations, which are available with ForeFlight Performance plans. When other sources of weather like METARs, TAFs, or MOS forecasts are unavailable for a given airport or time, the text just below the Weather section states that “general forecast data” is being used, which ForeFlight derives from the Daily and Hourly Forecasts.

Parachute Jump Areas

View Parachute Jump Areas in the US directly on the Aeronautical Map and tap-hold on them to view additional information. 

Tap Details in the Add to Route popup to view a PJA’s information, including its name, associated airport or aerodrome, upper and lower altitude limits, active hours, and more. You can disable PJAs using the Parachute Area switch in Map Settings > Airspace, or by disabling all airspace.

Airport Hotspot Details

Tap on airport hotspots on the Aeronautical Map to view each one’s description so you can be better prepared for taxi.

The hotspot popup includes each one’s name, airport, and a description of the hotspot with any remarks. If there are multiple overlapping hotspots where you tapped, a disambiguation popup allows you to choose which hotspot you want to view information for. 

Recommended Route Constraints: Include Track

Guide ForeFlight’s Recommended Route while planning oceanic flights by requiring it to follow a particular oceanic track using the new “Include Track” Route Constraint. The Recommended Route with Constraints is included in ForeFlight Performance plans.

With Route Advisor open, tap the Constraints button in the top-right to edit constraints, then tap Include Track at the bottom of the list. Switch between westward and eastward tracks using the toggle at the top of the window, and tap any track name from the North Atlantic Tracks or Pacific Organized Track System to select it. 

Tap out of the Constraints view and ForeFlight will attempt to generate a Recommended Route that includes the track you selected. Learn more about Route Constraints for the Recommended Route here. 

Runway Slope Details

ForeFlight now displays a runway’s slope alongside other details in the Airport view’s Runway tab. You can also view Runway Slope in the Airport popup on the Maps view. 

Download and Pack Tweaks

Both the Download and Pack views have improved and consistent interfaces that display the combined size of pending and in-progress downloads. In Downloads, the Pause and Download buttons are now grouped together in the bottom-right corner, while the Delete button is accessible in the top-right corner.

ForeFlight Adds New Forecast Graphics to Imagery View

We recently added two new collections of graphical forecasts to the Imagery view on mobile and web: Graphical Aviation Forecasts for cloud cover and surface conditions, and Ceiling and Visibility Analysis graphics.

Graphical Aviation Forecasts

While the Graphical Aviation Forecasts were already available as part of ForeFlight’s Graphical HTML Briefing, they are now even more accessible alongside ForeFlight’s other graphical weather imagery. The new cloud and surface forecasts replace the GFS MOS ceiling and visibility graphical forecast products, which NOAA discontinued in mid-December 2019. The GFS MOS textual products for ceiling and visibility are still available on NOAA’s site and in ForeFlight’s MOS airport weather tab.


The Graphical Aviation Forecasts for both cloud cover and surface conditions are provided for CONUS and nine additional regions: Northeast, East, Southeast, North Central, Central, South Central, Northwest, West, and Southwest. Each region and forecast type includes graphics for six forecast periods: 3 HR, 6 HR, 9 HR, 12 HR, 15 HR, and 18 HR. Forecasts are typically updated every 3 hours.

The Cloud Coverage product depicts not only the degree of cloud coverage (few, scattered, broken, or overcast), but also cloud top altitudes and icing or mountain obscuration AIRMETs.


The Surface product depicts even more, showing obscuration hazards and types (haze, fog, smoke, or dust/sand), weather conditions with color-coded probabilities (rain, snow, mix, or ice), thunderstorm probabilities, surface visibility, IFR or surface wind AIRMETs, and surface wind barbs with gust speeds indicated by red extensions on each barb’s tail.


Ceiling and Visibility Analysis

The Ceiling and Visibility Analysis collection provides three graphics depicting Flight Category, Visibility, and Ceiling information for CONUS and 18 major subdivisions, each named after a city in each region. 


These detailed graphics replace the single “Weather Depiction” chart that was previously available in the National > Featured section. Visit this page hosted by NOAA for information about the different symbols used in these forecast graphics.


As with other graphics in the Imagery view, you can share, copy, or download the new forecast products using the Send To menu in the bottom-right while viewing them.


GFS MOS – Extended Ceiling And Visibility Forecast

Let’s say you are making a round-robin VFR flight; your plan is to leave in a couple of hours and return back home three days later. For the initial outbound leg, there’s a ton of weather guidance available to be sure you can make a safe VFR trip. This includes observational products such as ground-based radar (NEXRAD), satellite imagery, pilot weather reports and METARs, as well as forecasts such as prog charts, terminal forecasts (TAFs) and the area forecast (FA) along with AIRMET Sierra. But what about that return flight in three days? We’ll get to this trip a bit later.

No help available

The low-level SIGWX, area forecast, and terminal forecasts are fine for anticipating the weather for the next day or so, but they simply don’t extend out far enough in the future to tell you if IFR conditions might mess with your plans three days down the road. Prog charts go out to seven days, but only depict areas of precipitation out to 48 hours and say nothing about ceilings nor visibility; however, don’t cast out the prog charts just yet. A widespread low IFR event ordinarily doesn’t happen without some kind of large-scale synoptic support. So prog charts can provide some important clues.


To zero in on ceilings and visibility up to three days in advance, you’ll want to try a model-based forecast called GFS MOS (also known as the MAV). The GFS MOS ceiling and visibility forecast is available in ForeFlight Mobile’s USA Imagery collections. This forecast graphically depicts the expected ceiling and visibility over the next three days at three-hour forecast intervals for the conterminous U.S. Moreover, it’s refreshed every six hours.

Model Output Statistics, or MOS, is derived from numerical weather prediction models that meteorologists use to issue their forecasts—in this case the Global Forecast System, or GFS. This model doesn’t automatically produce a point forecast for a specific town or airport. Combined with geoclimatic data, MOS takes the “raw” model forecast and attempts to improve on it by making a more useful site-specific forecast complete with weather elements critical to pilots, such as ceiling and visibility.

MOS in several forms

MOS guidance can be displayed for specific airports, as seen in ForeFlight Mobile. However, to determine the widespread nature of the event, GFS MOS guidance can also be graphically contoured over a geographic area the size of the conterminous United States (shown below for ceiling height). Displaying the categorical ceiling height and/or visibility graphically in this way is perhaps the best approach to use MOS for extended guidance.

GFS MOS Ceiling Forecast

The categorical GFS MOS forecast for ceiling. Legend is located at the bottom of the forecast.

Definition of ceiling

Before we go any further, let’s do a quick review. A ceiling is the lowest cloud layer aloft that is reported as broken or overcast. If the sky is totally obscured (hidden), the height of the vertical visibility will be the ceiling. Ceilings are represented as above ground level, not mean sea level. So the GFS MOS forecast for ceiling is showing height above the ground. But keep in mind that ceilings can vary widely over rugged terrain.

Ceiling forecast

This forecast is a close cousin of the MOS forecast available in ForeFlight Mobile. Unlike the area forecast and TAFs that offer an absolute ceiling and prevailing ground visibility forecast, the GFS MOS guidance is a categorical forecast. It uses flight categories to include Very Low IFR (VLIFR), Low IFR (LIFR), IFR, Marginal VFR (MVFR) and VFR. The color-coded legend that depicts these categories for the contours on the map is located at the bottom of each forecast as shown below. Areas depicted in black on the map are expected to be clear below 12,000 feet AGL.

GFS MOS Ceiling Legend

Legend that exists at the bottom of each GFS MOS ceiling forecast annotated with ceiling flight categories.

Visibility forecast

Visibility is very similar. Keep in mind that this a forecast for prevailing ground visibility. Flight categories include VLIFR, LIFR, IFR, MVFR and VFR as well. Areas shown in black represent a visibility forecast greater than 6 statute miles.

GFS MOS Visibility Legend

Legend that exists at the bottom of each GFS MOS visibility forecast annotated with visibility flight categories.

Decoding the date-time stamp

Before using any forecast you must be certain how to decode the date-time stamp on the image. For the GFS MOS ceiling and visibility forecast, this is located in a banner across the top of each image like the one shown below. The date-time stamp is located on the second line of this banner. This forecast uses YYMMDD/HH as the format (annotated in white below). So in this example, the text 150828/1500 on the second line suggests the forecast is valid at 1500 UTC on August 28, 2015. The text at the end of the second line following “1500” or V075 is less important and simply states the forecast hour. In this case, it’s a 75 hour forecast—meaning that it’s a projection of what the ceiling (or visibility) will be in 75 hours from the time the GFS model was initialized. The GFS model is initialized four times daily at 0000, 0600, 1200 and 1800 UTC.


A proposed VFR round-robin flight

Back to our round-robin flight. It’s Wednesday and the plan is to depart Oshkosh (KOSH), Wisconsin this afternoon headed to International Falls (KINL), Minnesota with a return to Oshkosh three days later on Saturday morning. After examining the TAFs, area forecast and pilot weather reports, the weather is looking excellent for today’s flight. The layers overlaid on the ForeFlight Mobile Map view below include the latest satellite, current ceilings and AIR/SIGMETs. The satellite image shows a some scattered clouds in the vicinity of Oshkosh, but clear skies all the way to International Falls.

Outbound Leg

The ForeFlight Mobile Map view shows the latest satellite layer along with the AIR/SIGMETs and ceiling layers. Except for some scattered clouds in the Oshkosh area, no other weather concerns on the flight from KOSH to KINL.

So the outbound flight this afternoon has no real weather implications for a VFR flight, but what about the return leg back to Oshkosh on Saturday morning? Most of the public forecasts are showing a 30% chance of showers on Saturday as shown below, but nothing in this forecast mentions ceilings or visibility.

Public Forecast

GFS MOS comes to the rescue! This 75-hour forecast below is valid at 1500 UTC on Saturday and clearly shows that a VFR flight back to Oshkosh isn’t very likely. During the morning, a good portion of the route from International Falls to Oshkosh includes ceilings below a VFR flight category.

Return ceiling forecast

This GFS MOS categorical ceiling forecast valid at 1500 UTC on Saturday shows IFR conditions along the route.

But the news isn’t all that bad. The weather is expected to improve in the afternoon as shown in this 81-hour forecast below valid at 2100 UTC on Saturday. The entire route is forecast to be clear below 12,000 feet. Of course, it would be important to also check the forecast visibility at this time.

Afternoon ceiling forecast

This GFS MOS categorical ceiling forecast valid at 2100 UTC on Saturday shows ceilings improve significantly with skies clear below 12,000 feet along most of the proposed route.

Finding GFS MOS in ForeFlight

The GFS MOS ceiling and visibility forecasts are located in the ForeFlight weather Imagery. On the iPad tap on Imagery and then tap on the USA button on the lower left. On the left menu bar you will see selections for Ceiling Forecast and Visibility Forecast under the GFS MOS label. Forecasts on the right begin at 6 hours and run through 84 hours for both ceiling and visibility.

Check out the second half of this article series.

GFS MOS in ForeFlight

GFS MOS forecasts in the ForeFlight weather imagery.