Juneau FSS Range of Services
This guide is intended to provide you with information on some of the services available from Juneau FSS and its satellite facilities. Juneau FSS is located at 9230 Cessna Drive. We perform the standard range of FSS functions including preflight weather briefing, flight plan filing, and inflight along with emergency services, search and rescue, broadcast and communications relay. Services are provided primarily to users within Alaska; however, frequent flights to areas outside of Alaska such as Canada and the “Lower 48” are also served.
- Phone Numbers and TIBS Access numbers
- Preflight Planning
- Standard Weather Briefing
- Abbreviated Briefing
- Outlook Briefing
- Flight Plans
- Inflight Weather Briefing
- Area Forecasts (FA)
- METAR Observations
- Terminal Forecasts (FT)
- Wind & Temperature Aloft Forecasts (FD)
- Inflight Advisories(WS, WST, WA, CWA)
- Juneau ASOS: (907)789-1243
- Juneau FSS Local Phone: (907)789-7380
- Juneau FSS TIBS & Briefers(Toll Free): 1-866-297-2236 or 1-800-WX-BRIEF(1-800-992-7433)
- Ketchikan FSS: (907)225-9481
- Sitka FSS: (907)966-2221
A good weather briefing starts with developing an awareness of the overall “big picture” before attempting to get a detailed weather briefing. At many locations, you can learn about the big picture by listening to the Transcribed Weather Broadcast (TWEB), Telephone Information Briefing System (TIBS), Television Aviation Weather, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, Television and Radio Weather Broadcasts, and newspaper weather maps.
When you are ready to call for a weather briefing make sure your planned route of flight is worked out and your flight plan partially completed before you make the telephone call. We urge you not to simply call and ask for a BRIEF. In order to ensure that your briefing can be tailored to your needs, give the briefer the following information:
- Type of weather briefing requested:
- Type of flight contemplated: VFR or IFR
- Aircraft's N-number or pilot's last name
- Type of aircraft
- Departure point
- Proposed route of flight
- Proposed flight altitude(s)
- Estimated time of departure(ETD)
- Estimated time en-route(ETE)
After the conclusion of the briefing, if there is anything that you do not understand about the weather briefing, let the briefer know. If terminology is used that you do not understand, ask the briefer to explain it. A briefer who talks too fast should be asked to speak more slowly. The amount of detail in your weather briefing will depend upon how complicated the weather situation really is. Remember, if the weather situation really is “iffy”, expect and insist upon a standard weather briefing. It is both your legal responsibility and your perogative.
If you request that the briefer provide you with a standard weather briefing, the briefer will be following procedures and phraseology used by FAA personnel providing flight services. Specialists are directed not to read weather reports verbatim unless you specifically request they do. At a minimum, your preflight briefing will include the following elements:
- Adverse Conditions: The briefer will advise you of any significant meteorological and/or aeronautical information (e.g. thunderstorms, icing, turbulence, low ceilings, visibilities, or airport closures) along your proposed route of flight that might influence you, the pilot, to alter or cancel your proposed flight. Expect the briefer to emphasize conditions that are particularly significant, such as low level wind shear, embedded thunderstorms, reported icing, or frontal zones. When a VFR flight is proposed and actual, or forecast, conditions make VFR flight questionable, the briefer will describe the conditions and may advise you “VFR flight is not recommended ”. If this occurs, or if you feel that the weather conditions are clearly beyond your capabilities you should consider terminating the briefing. This will free the briefer to handle other incoming calls. Of course the GO/NO GO decision is up to you, the pilot-in-command.
- Synopsis: A brief statement as to the cause of the weather (e.g. fronts or pressure systems) which might affect your proposed route of flight.
- Current Conditions: When your proposed time of departure is within two hours, the briefer will summarize current weather, including PIREP's, applicable to your route of flight.
- Enroute Forecast: Expect the briefer to summarize forecast conditions along your proposed route in a logical order, i.e., climb-out, enroute, and descent.
- Destination Forecast: The destination forecast for your planned ETA will be provided, including any significant changes within one hour before and after your planned time of arrival.
- Winds Aloft Forecast: The briefer will summarize forecast winds aloft for the proposed route. Temperature information will be provided on request.
- Notice to Airmen (NOTAMS): Current NOTAMs pertinent to your proposed route of flight will be provided. However, information on military training routes and areas (MTRs and MOAs), along with published NOTAMs and Special Notices, must be specifically requested.
- Request for Pilot Reports: Due to the mountainous terrain and scarcity of weather reporting stations in Alaska; the briefer will request that you provide pilot reports for enroute conditions.
Request an abbreviated weather briefing when you need information to supplement mass disseminated data, update a previous briefing, or when you need only one or two specific items. Provide the briefer with appropriate background information, the time you received the previous information, and/or the specific items needed. You should indicate the source of the information already received so that the briefer can limit the briefing to the information that you have not received, and/or appreciable changes in meteorological conditions since your previous briefing. To the extent possible, the briefer will provide the information in the sequence shown for a Standard Briefing. If you request only one or two specific items, the briefer will advise you if adverse conditions are present or forecast. Details on these conditions will be provided upon your request.
You should request an outlook weather briefing whenever your proposed time of departure is six or more hours from the time of the briefing. The briefer will provide available forecast data applicable to the proposed flight. This type of briefing is provided for planning purposes only. You should obtain a Standard Weather Briefing prior to departure in order to obtain such items as current conditions, updated forecasts, winds aloft and NOTAMs. If you are needing an outlook briefing for conditions three or more days in the future, contact the National Weather Service Forecaster.
If, after having received a briefing, you decide to go; please file a Flight Plan. One thing you can do to simplify your flight plan filing is to put your aircraft and personal information on file here. The master flight plan program was established for the owners/operators of aircraft in Alaska. A master flight plan is intended to record static information on an aircraft, not on a pilot. Only one master flight plan, therefore, will be accepted per aircraft from the owner/operator. Master flight plan files are maintained by the FSS's for aircraft based within their respective area of responsibility or Hub area. A master flight plan, on file with any Alaska Region FSS, will be accepted by all Alaska Region FSS's. Aircraft owners/operators may file a master flight plan with an FSS in person, online form submission, mail, phone, FAX, or radio. FSS's will forward master flight plan information to the appropriate FSS. Upon receipt of master flight plan information, the FSS enters the information into their master flight plan file. You may begin to use your master flight plan after receiving notice that it has been entered into the FSS's master flight plan file.
NOTE: Aircraft owners/operators are responsible for ensuring the master flight plan information on file for their aircraft is current. Changes in master flight plan data should be reported to the appropriate facility immediately. Failure to provide updated information could cause unnecessary delays in search and rescue activities. Pilots who do not update master flight plan information may be excluded from the program.
Just a thought about Local Area Flight Plans: If you file a flight plan for the local area, i.e. within a 25 mile radius of the airport of departure; and should become overdue, then the ratio of aircraft size to search area size is 1 to 145,167,050. Try to be as specific as possible when describing your route of flight. This will reduce the initial search area greatly.
You are encouraged to obtain your preflight briefing by telephone, or in person before departure; as this will reduce congestion on the radio frequencies. During normal daily operations the specialists at the Juneau FSS Inflight positions are monitoring from 12 to over 60 frequencies. When traffic is high, it is not uncommon to have five or more aircraft calling simultaneously for services. We do our best to handle all of these requests as rapidly as possible and your cooperation is requested. In addition, our frequency outlets extend from the Dixon entrance to Naked Island including Middleton Island, Valdez, Yakutat, and Skagway. Therefore, when calling Flight Service via the radio, identify not only yourself, but also the radio outlet you are calling over. In those cases where you need to obtain a preflight briefing, or an update to a previous briefing by radio, you should contact the nearest FSS to obtain this information. After communications have been established, advise the specialist of the type of briefing you require:
Provide the appropriate background information. You will be provided information as specified in the above paragraphs, depending upon the type of briefing requested. Feel free to ask for any information that you or the briefer may have missed. It helps to save your questions until the briefing has been completed. This enables the briefer to present the information in a logical sequence, and reduces the chance of important items being overlooked. Enroute and destination weather updates are also available by monitoring the TWEB on selected NDB's or VOR's, listening to the Airport Terminal Information Service (ATIS), on-site contract weather observers, and/or monitoring the appropriate AWOS/ASOS.
Centers and terminal area facilities broadcast a SIGMET or CWA alert once on all frequencies upon receipt. To the extent possible, centers and terminal area facilities will issue pertinent information on weather and assist pilots in avoiding hazardous weather areas when requested.
The FAA Alaska Region has developed a Common Traffic Advisory Frequency (CTAF) program. The purpose is to provide both aircraft and vehicular traffic a common frequency for use when operating on an uncontrolled airport. Use of the CTAF is highly recommended. Feel free to contact the tie-in FSS for current runway and NOTAM information before switching to the CTAF. If you operate into or out of an airport and find the field condition hazardous or different than reported please advise the tie-in FSS.
Weather Information Sources Used by Briefers
Briefers draw from all available weather sources and other aeronautical information to summarize data applicable to the proposed flight.
Area Forecasts are 12-hour aviation forecasts plus an 18-hour categorical outlook giving general descriptions of cloud cover, weather conditions, and potentially hazardous weather which could impact aircraft operations. Alaska Area Forecasts, each covering a broad geographical area are issued four times a day (6 am, noon, 6 pm, & midnight local time).
Heights of cloud bases, tops, freezing level, icing, and turbulence are referenced to mean sea level (MSL) unless otherwise stated. Ceilings are given in heights above ground level (AGL). The causes of LIFR, IFR, or MVFR are indicated by ceiling, restrictions to visibility, or both. If winds (or gusts) of 25 knots or greater are forecast for the outlook period, the word WIND is included. Example: IFR CIG RA WND. Expect IFR conditions due to forecast ceilings below 1,000 feet and/or visibility below three with rain. The wind is expected to be 25 knots or greater.
- More than 50% probability of occurring, but for less than half of the period.
- Conditions forecast to occur in less than 25% of the forecast area.
- Less than 3,000 square miles or widely dispersed.
- 5 to 25 nautical miles beyond the center of the runway complex.
- Less than 3,000 square miles or widely separated in time.
- Less than 25% of the area affected.
- 25-54% of the area affected.
- More than 55% of the area affected.
- (Low IFR) Ceiling less than 500 feet and/or visibility less than 1 statute mile.
- Ceiling 500 feet to less than 1,000 feet and/or visibility 1 to less than 3 miles.
- (Marginal VFR) Ceiling 1,000 to 3,000 feet and/or visibility 3 to 5 miles.
- Ceiling greater than 3,000 feet and visibility greater than 5 statute miles.
METAR (Meteorological Aviation Routine Weather) reports are issued hourly. A SPECI (Unscheduled Special Observation) is issued based on changes in the weather. These reports replaced what we knew as Record and Special observations (SA's and SP's) back in 1998. The major changes are in the order that the elements are reported and the use of ICAO identifiers for the Weather and Obstructions to vision field. Temperatures and dewpoints are reported in Celsius. The order of fields is as listed:
- Type of report (METAR or SPECI)
- Station identifier
- Date and time of report
- Report modifier (AUTO or COR)
- Runway visual range
- Weather and obstructions to vision
- Sky condition
Aerodrome forecasts are issued for specific airports and generally cover a five nautical mile radius from the center of the runway complex. Alaska TAF Forecasts are issued four times a day (0000Z, 0600Z, 1200Z, 1800Z.) Each forecast is amended according to prescribed criteria. They contain information about expected ceilings, cloud heights and coverage, visibility, weather, obstructions to vision, and surface winds. They are valid for a 24 hour period gradually transitioning to 36 hours.
- Ceilings are identified by “BKN”, “OVC”, “VV” (indefinite ceiling).
- Cloud heights in terminal forecasts are always reported in hundreds of feet above ground level (AGL).
- Visibility is reported in statute miles (or fractions thereof up to 2 statute miles), and “P6SM” if the visibility is greater than 6 statute miles.
- Weather and obstructions to vision are displayed in standard METAR weather contractions.
- Surface wind is reported in tens of degrees from true north in knots and is omitted when less than 10 knots.
TAF PAJN 262355Z 2700/2724 34015G25KT 5SM -SHSN BR SCT010 BKN018
PROB40 0106 1/2SM -SHSN FG VV008
BECMG 0708 35012KT P6SM BKN050
FM0800 35012KT P6SM SCT060
Translation-Juneau aerodrome (TAF) forecast for the 27th day of the month valid from 0000Z until 0000Z. The forecast wind is from 340 degrees at 15 knots with gusts to 25 knots. The visibility is five statute miles with light snow showers and mist. The sky condition is forecast to be 1,000(AGL) scattered and ceiling 1,800(AGL) broken with a 40% chance between 0100Z and 0600Z visibility 1/2 statute mile light snow showers and fog with an indefinite ceiling 800(AGL). Between 0700Z and 0800Z gradually changing to wind from 350 degrees at 12 knots and visibility more than 6 statute miles with the ceiling 5,000(AGL) broken. After 0800Z the forecast wind from 350 degrees at 12 knots visibility more than 6 statue miles visibility and 6,000(AGL) scattered.
Wind and temperature aloft forecasts contain upper air velocity and temperature forecasts, and are issued twice a day. Winds from in-between levels can be calculated by interpolation. Wind aloft forecasts are a good indicator of where the weather is coming from. Comparing the current weather with the winds aloft will give an indication of the direction weather is moving. Temperatures aloft are given in Celsius. Example:
VALID 261800Z FOR USE 1700-2100Z. TEMPS NEG ABV 24,000
DATA BASED ON 261200Z
VALID 270000Z FOR USE 2100-0600Z. TEMPS NEG ABV 24,000
Translation - Juneau winds aloft forecast on the 26th day between 2100Z and 0600Z for six thousand feet is 220 degrees true at seven knots and the temperature is minus 12 degrees Celsius.
- SIGMET (WS)
- An advisory of hazardous weather conditions of concern to all aircraft and is issued as necessary. Updates are every four hours from initial time of transmission. SIGMETs warn of severe conditions of importance to all aircraft (e.g., severe icing, severe turbulence, dust storms, sandstorms, volcanic ash, squall lines, embedded thunderstorms, tornados, hail 3/4 inch or larger and low level wind shears). WDSPRD(widespread) indicates conditions forecast to occur in more than 3000 square miles of the forecast area.
- AIRMET (WA)
- An advisory of hazardous conditions, mainly of concern to smaller aircraft. These are issued every six hours as part of the area forecast and when conditions warrant an amendment. AIRMETs concern weather of less severity than SIGMETs, detailing conditions which may be hazardous to aircraft having limited capability because of lack of equipment, instrumentation, or pilot qualifications. Criteria consist of Moderate ice and/or turbulence, sustained surface wind of 30 knots or more, ceilings less than 1000 feet and/or visibility less than three miles affecting 50% or more of the forecast area.
- CENTER WEATHER ADVISORY (CWA)
- An unscheduled inflight flow control involving air traffic and aircrew advisory. CWA's are considered as “nowcast,” rather than a flight planning product. They normally provide a narration of conditions existing at the time of issuance and a forecast for the next 2 hours.
We rely heavily on pilot weather reports due to rapidly changing and sometimes hazardous weather conditions over long stretches of area where no weather reporting stations exist. Unforseen weather phenomena can also be a hazard within relatively short distances between airports due to unique terrain features characteristic of southeast Alaska. The best way to eliminate or at least reduce enroute weather surprises is to give and obtain pilot reported inflight weather observations, or PIREP's. PIREP's are often the only means available for gathering some information (i.e. cloud tops, actual icing and turbulence conditions, etc.). A PIREP gives a pilot valuable information on weather conditions actually being experienced inflight by other pilots. This information supplements data reported by ground stations. When giving PIREPs one idea is to follow the format of an hourly weather report using VOR radial/DME or Latitude/Longitude to identify your location. Giving the trend of the weather is also valuable. Pilot reports are utilized in the receiving facility immediately and disseminated to other FAA facilities, NWS, the internet, and other pilots as soon as possible after receipt. A qood PIREP consists of the following:
- Your type of aircraft, altitude, and location (ideally in reference to a VOR).
- Cloud cover including bases and tops.
- Turbulence and icing.
- Visibility restrictions.
- Outside air temperature in Centigrade.
- Other significant weather data (i.e. lowering or improving conditions).
Questions or Comments Welcome