A Primer on “Windy” for Aviation Weather

A Primer on “Windy” for Aviation Weather

“Windy” is an awesome tool for worldwide weather forecasts up to a week or more before departure, with a wide variety of tools to provide important insight for pilots.  Windy is available for FREE as both a website and an app for portable devices.

Video: Windy for Aviation Weather

Accessing Windy

    • Website: on any browser, go to windy.com

    • Smartphone/tablet app:

  • Note: there are small differences in use and functionality between Windy.com and the Windy app, however learning Windy on one platform (e.g. on a computer for mid-range weather planning) should translate quite easily to another platform (e.g. a tablet for day-off detailed checks).

User Interface

[1] Zoom In/Out

[2] What to Display

[3] Altitude

[4] Text Overlay

[5] Which Model

[6] Units & Legend

          [7] Timeline

A Quick Tour

Your initial display should look much as shown above.  Referencing the numbered areas above, let’s try a few simple things:

    • Go to windy.com

    • In area [2], make sure Wind is selected

  • [1] pan (hold mouse down, move around) and zoom to an area that interests you

  • [3] grab the Altitude slider and move from Surface to “1500m 5000 ft”… and the displayed winds change… then slide up to say “3000m FL100”

  • [4] select the second icon for “Forecasted weather” (this gives numerical readouts on the map, in this case for wind direction and magnitude)

  • [7] slide the timeline orange date bubble a couple days ahead… you can then use the < and > arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge forward or back a few hours

    • [2] select Rain, thunder

  • [1] pan/zoom to an area with some precipitation activity

  • [6] toggle units by clicking on “in” to “mm”… any rain amounts in the display will update… and if you’d like, back to “in”

  • [5] switch from the ECMWF (European) model to the GFS (NOAA) model… and back

  • [2] select the sub-item Thunderstorms

  • [7] slide or nudge the timeline back and forth

    • [2] select Clouds

  • [2] select the sub-item Cloud base


Rain & Thunder


Cloud Bases


Configuring your Windy Experience

[Optional] Before we bother to tailor Windy to our needs, it’s worthwhile to create a free account so that any customization we do is saved across sessions and devices.

  • At the upper right, click Login

  • Then near the bottom, Register

  • … enter the information you want for your Windy account

Now, here are some suggested customizations that seem to work well for aviation purposes:

    • [2] click More Layers… here you can toggle on (or off) items for the main menu area, e.g.:

  • Fog

  • Cloud tops

  • Active fires

  • CO concentration (related to smoke distribution)

  • Pressure

  • Extreme forecast

  • Weather warnings

  • … Important: in the box Display Isolines, select Freezing Altitude

  • Click the red X in the upper right to close the More Layers menu

  • [2] Select Cloud base… and you should have a map containing elements much like shown below:

  • … where we now see forecast Freezing Altitudes as the cyan isoline “bubbles” overlaid on Cloud Bases, with the bases color coded per the legend at the lower right.

On-going Exploration

    • From this point you could of course continue your analysis… for example, with:

  • Rain & Thunder

    • Rain Accumulation or New Snow for the coming hours/days

  • Clouds

    • Cloud Tops

    • Fog

  • Weather Warnings (click a map area for details)

  • different Models to see if they are converging

  • … i.e. just click away and experiment

    • Windy also conveniently provides displays of Current weather at the very top of the main menu [2]…

  • Radar & Satellite

    • Weather Radar, animated over the past 1, 6 and 12 hours

    • Satellite, with options for Visible, Infrared, and Infrared+ (the latter with temperature at cloud tops, coldest are highest tops)

Detailed Forecasts at a Location

    • Let’s return to a basic display

  • [2] Rain, thunder

  • [7] a couple days out

  • [1] pan/zoom to a location that is predicting some precipitation

    • On the map, click on a city

  • A weather “strip” pops up at the bottom with basic weather info for that location over time

  • At the bottom of the page, click Meteogram

    • There is a wealth of info in this weather timeline strip forecast:

  • Legend and Units are at the far left of the strip

  • Temps and Dew Points

  • Wind and Wind Gusts

  • Pressure trend line

  • Cloud layers (caution: difficult to forecast) are the gray “clouds” (versus time and altitude)

  • Precip accumulation, color coded by rain, convective, snow

  • Cloud Bases

  • … and again the option to toggle different models (ECMWF, GFS) and even Compare all the models side-by-side (see Description of Models, last page)

More Details at a Location

    • Again, let’s return to a basic display

  • [2] Wind

  • [7] a couple days out

  • [1] pan/zoom to a location of interest

  • On the map, right mouse on a location… Show Weather Picker

  • … which you can then grab and drag around the map

    • [2] Clouds… and pan/zoom to an area that has some cloud cover

  • Right mouse at a location… Sounding

  • In the pop-up frame, click the “+” (this zooms to the lower altitudes)

  • … we now have a simplified version of a SkewT chart… the blue line is Dew Point, the red line Temperature… at altitudes where they converge we can expect a cloud layer.  Wind/wind direction is shown to the right.


Description of Models


GFS 22km



NAM 5km

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *