Before a cross-country trip in the U.S. I look at several websites. Then I call the FAA Flight Service Station to get a full briefing and to file my flight plan (you do file don't you?). This page has the websites I look at.

The day before the trip I look at these U.S. weather maps provided by commercial entities:

Accuweather Forecast Maps Over 5 Days.

Wunderground 12, 24, 36 & 48 Hour Forecast Maps.

The Weather Channel Forecasts for Today and 48 Hours.

Then I go to the these sites on the day of the trip:

The government's aviation site (like an FAA briefing).

Winds aloft maps.

Aviation 24-hour forecast map.

For my specific area of flight I look at these satellite maps (they can be set in motion, showing how the weather has been moving over the past few hours, thereby allowing a rough prediction on how an area will look several hours from now):

Florida and the Bahamas.

United States by region.

The Navy site is a powerful resource and ideal for flights over land or water (coastal or open seas), providing 7-day forecasts for most of the world. Because of the amount of information presented, it may seem difficult but it's worth it, with forecasts of wind, rain, and waves in 6-hour periods. The link to access it is below. But you need these instructions to navigate it. First, if you get a security problem notice, ignore it and continue to the site. Once on the Navy site, click on the FNMOC link on the left, then on the first link (Meteorology Products), and then again on the first link (Global & Regional Weather and Wave prediction Charts). Next, look for the map with your area of interest (look carefully, because to see certain areas, like Tropical Atlantic, you first need to click on the "Tropical Areas" tab). Once you find the map you want, click on the map. You will then arrive at a page that may seem daunting, but isn't. Just find the Product you want from the left column (e.g., "Previous 6 hr Precipitation Rate") and on that row click on the column for your period of interest (say, afternoon, 3 days from now). At the top of each column the number corresponds to the hours since the forecast was made, and from there you may need to adjust to one of the adjoining columns (see example in the footnote* below).

Navy Site (remember to ignore security problem notices)
(If link fails, copy this URL onto your Internet browser:

*An example will illustrate. Say you want to see if rain is expected over Norfolk, Virginia, on the the afternoon of Thursday 5 days from now. You would have clicked on the CONUS map. On the row for "Previous 6 hr Precipitation Rate" you would click on the 120 column (5 days = 120 hours). When the map appears your first task is to confirm that it covers the date/time you want. Your first column choice is probably wrong, for two reasons. First, the forecast may have been done 12 hours ago, so you need the 132 column. Second, what you really need is the forecast for 00Zulu Friday (shown as Fri 00Z, see figure), which is 7 or 8PM Thursday night in the Eastern U.S., and will give you the amount of rain for the 6-hour period ending at 7 or 8 PM Thursday. So you might need the 126 or the 138 column. When you get the proper time period, you see a map showing the rain forecast, with color coding used to depict intensity.

Click here to return to the Skymaster US Website.