I would like to take the time to stress the use of weather sources available to make safe, accurate weather decisions. The HEMS tool is quick and easy, but not as accurate or detailed as the many other weather sources we should be looking at instead. As professional aviators, we should not be ignoring the NWS GFA (Graphical Area Forecast). This replaced the FA (Area Forecast) and since it is relatively new, many pilots don’t use it. The GFA negates the HEMS tool, provides much more info, and best of all, is an approved weather source for weather decisions.
For those who like being able to take a quick look at the colors to determine VFR, MVFR, or IFR, the GFA has that capability. But don’t just stop there. The GFA shows cloud tops, turbulence, icing, precip, and many other things we should be looking at, especially us SPIFR pilots, as well as hourly forecasts for everything up to 15 hours. It disappoints me when a professional pilot, especially those flying SPIFR, don’t know how to use the GFA.
Other great tools that we should be familiar with and using include the icing CIP/FIP, Winds/Temps Aloft, RUC Soundings, infrared satellite, and pireps.
Some things I have seen that are absolutely unacceptable; Looking solely at the HEMS tool to make a decision. Disregarding TAFs and taking a flight because the HEMS tool shows something different. Not looking at METARs, TAFs, and the GFA to get a general picture of the weather.
We have these great tools available and as professional pilots, we should learn to use them. So go beyond looking for pink and blue, and make weather decisions accurately and safely.