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Cloud layers and sun

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  • Cloud layers and sun

    Ok for the pilots or weather enthusiasts, How do I determine where the cloud layer tops out, in elevation. For example,
    I am in Snohomish Wa. It’s raining but 40 degrees out and no inversions,so I know its snowing in the mountains. But its foggy in town and the web cams at Rainier and stevens pass show same ****ty “interior of a ping pong ball” like visibility. I know though that above those clouds is glorious , wonderful, revitalizing sunshine. Do I go to Rainier because the sun is out above 10000 feet and not 12000 ft? How do I find this elusive (to me) altitude?
    I hope my question is clear
    Thanks
    Keith

  • #2
    Aviation weather forecasts.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Baaahb View Post
      Aviation weather forecasts.
      You could call the local FAA weather facility, and ask for an aviation weather briefing. They may have PIREPS (Pilot reports) where someone has reported the tops while climbing out.
      Here is a link for example to the NWS in Burlington. BTV.
      https://www.weather.gov/btv/


      I have scrolled down to the Aviation Forecast, (red arrow at top) though tops aren't normally included.
      Click image for larger version  Name:	NWS Burlington.jpg Views:	0 Size:	271.2 KB ID:	105069
      Or call the phone number at the bottom on these NWS pages..Red arrow, and ask if they have any PIREPS for the tops. .
      Last edited by chamonix; Yesterday, 11:38 AM.

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      • #4
        Well, you probably aren't going much above 6000 feet unless you travel some distance down to Mt Rainier. Even Mt Baker resort tops out at 5,089 ft. The way I predict freezing level for snow conditions is complex and based on years of living where I am on the I-90 corridor. I look at the highway cameras. I look at the snoqualmie resort cameras and I look at the weather data primarily for temperature and wind direction. From all those combined inputs I have a good idea of what the snow conditions are like. I never expect to climb out of the clouds unless I go to Rainier...

        As far as climbing through the clouds into sunshine or driving up to a start zone without clouds, I would think you could go to the east side of the mountains like Wenatchee or just haul a$$ down to Rainier. At lower elevations in the cascades it will be a rare day where you have clouds at the trailhead, and be able to climb through them into sunshine if the forecast for the day is "cloudy" or "rain/snow". There just won't be a mountain high enough to climb through the cloud layer into sunshine. Occasionally the valley will have morning mist which you can climb away from but that's because it's going to be a sunny day and the ground moisture is causing surface fog/mist/clouds...

        The saying is, "You don't really know unless you go!", but if you go enough times, then in the future, you'll get a sense of what it will be like from a quick peek at the traffic and resort live camera images and the weather telemetry... Not really science, more like guessing based on past experience.
        Last edited by tele.skier; Yesterday, 02:12 PM.
        the fall line is your friend.... resistance is futile

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