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Features February 2017 Issue

Why It's So Bumpy

This interesting chart shows the frequency of moderate to severe turbulence (yellow to red) normalized for traffic frequency. (Wolf & Sharman, AMS, 2008)

Why It's So Bumpy

We all want a smooth ride, but not so many of us know where to look for one. Do you know your CAT from your mechanical turbulence?

I recently got a question from a reader: ďWhen you are flying in clouds and the ride is bumpy, is it bumpy because itís cloudy or is it cloudy because itís bumpy?Ē Good question. Turbulence is often approached from a rather pragmatic approach in aviation, and that often leaves pilots with questions about where it fits in with weather patterns. Letís look at this piecemeal. From a meteorological perspective, turbulence is bumpiness caused by flight into an area where wind is changing over a small distance.

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