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Region 4 South - Noon report

One way to describe yesterday’s weather is that both forecasts were accurate: easterly winds brought low cloud that limited heating and made the day more or less unflyable until about 2pm.  Then the sun broke through and the good airmass responded (albeit a bit slowly) with thermals to above 5000’.  One memorable comment from John Murray (who “was volunteered” as sniffer):  “I’m sure there’s a one-knot climb around here somewhere, but I haven’t found it yet.”

The result was a short task for the 18-Meter class, with respectable speeds.  The launch for the FAI handicapped class (15-Meter and Standard gliders) was deemed too late for a task, though some of these pilots elected to launch anyway, and a number flew the 18-Meter task.

Despite thermals that occasionally yielded 5-kt climbs, it was a good day for caution.  Most pilots who got low reported that climbing out of their hole was a struggle.  The southeasterly wind wasn’t really strong enough to make the ridges work, but made them a good place to look for thermals and reduced sink.

Each year at New Castle we share the air with some long-distance migrants.  The most prominent are Broad-Winged Hawks, which are seen in impressive numbers and usually do a great job of marking thermal cores and the best route from one to the next.  Yesterday they were present in force – some pilots reported thermals containing a couple hundred of these raptors.

On a different scale are Monarch butterflies, which pass by New Castle during one of the most remarkable migrations of any creature.  Their full route is from Mexico to as far north as Canada and back, but no individual completes this – it actually takes three or four generations of butterflies to fly the entire task.  Here we see them high in thermals (provided the wind is not southwesterly, as they can’t deal with much of a headwind) and near the ground (sometimes circling in “thermals” that are a few inches in diameter and a foot off the ground).  

Today we have a similar forecast, calling for a struggle between a good airmass and low cloud.  At grid time there is little sun on the ground and temperatures are low - so we'll have to see whether this can develop into a flyable day.


Posted: 9/18/2013


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