Guessing the Weather

Below are a few weather links that may be of some use to other astronomers. I've listed them in the way that I use them ahead of a decision on whether to travel north from Melbourne for a night of astrophotography. I have no formal qualifications in this area (although I am the son of a meteorologist). This may be most relevant for other's in the south-east but the links should be useful in most areas of Australia.

BoM = Australian Bureau of Meteorology
GFS = US Numerical Model
All times quoted are AEST (UT +10)

2-4 Days Ahead

BoM Four Day Forecast Chart (updated around 3pm daily): Lines marking fronts or troughs over or approaching your location spell trouble. A ridge of high pressure, or northerly winds is a good sign. Southerly winds will generally bring cloud to coastal areas but skies could well be clear north of the divide. cloud charts from GFS (updated overnight?): Take this with a large grain of salt but very useful in assessing the timing of cloud bands associated with troughs and fronts. Not always so accurate in forecasting other low cloud. I think this does not include high cloud.

Metcheck 7 Day Summary: GFS model data for your location with a total cloud cover percentage for morning/afternoon/evening.

WeatherZone Synoptic Charts: Includes a brief description of the situation for each day.

One Day Ahead Day Summary (updated around 4:30pm daily): GFS model data for your location with a total cloud cover percentage in three hourly intervals. Astronomy Forecast (updated around 4:30pm daily): GFS model data for your location with cloud cover percentages by altitude, in three hourly intervals. A great tool, although the low cloud forecasts are variable (same as Snow-Forecast charts). High cloud forecasts seem reasonably reliable.

Also keep monitoring the Snow-Forecast Cloud Charts (above).

On the Day

Latest BoM synoptic analysis chart: Attached below.

WeatherZone Synoptic Chart: Current analysis chart also includes location of jetstream, which helps to understand movement of jetstream cloud (see below). The jetstream may influence stability of 'seeing' although other effects may be more important.

Jetstream model from Metcheck

Satellite Images from Weatherzone: Hourly Visible and Infrared satellite images. Essential for monitoring latest weather before final decision. Weatherzone include a brief analysis of the current situation below the image. Visible image is good for monitoring low cloud but only during daylight hours! Infrared shows high cloud very strongly - watch out for jetstream cloud which may ruin what looks like an otherwise positive synoptic situation.

The MetOffice in the UK has an Aviation Subscription Service with a really cool MesoScale model which is about the best forecasting aid an astronomer could hope for. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology has the technology to provide something similar. Perhaps you could contact them to tell them you'd like one too..