Cool: Website Predicts Turbulence On Your Next Flight

Filed Under: Travel Technology

As an aviation geek I look up all kinds of things on the day that I fly just for fun — I check out where my plane is coming from, the seatmap for the flight, the age and history of the plane, the expected actual flight time (rather than block time), etc.

I do this purely out of curiosity and for fun, and I recognize it’s something others might not appreciate as much, and for that matter find strange. “Look, we’re on November Nine Zero Seven Alpha November, a 22 year old American Oasis 737-800.”

Anyway, I’ve just learned about a new website that I’ll be adding to my pre-flight rituals…

Turbli: predict turbulence on your next flight

Turbli is a new website that hopes to provide travelers with accurate turbulence predictions, based on forecasts produced by NOAA/NWS, which are also used by pilots for flight planning.

Full disclosure — I have no relationship with the company, but the founder emailed me to tell me about the site, and I kind of dig it, which is why I’m sharing it here.

With Turbli you can look up a forecast for any flight within 36 hours. Just enter your origin and destination.

Then on the next page you can select your flight, so that you can get accurate predictions based on your departure time, aircraft type, etc.

Based on that information, Turbli makes a few flight projections. The first is a prediction of how much turbulence there will be based on wind conditions, with a graph that even shows which parts of the flight are likely to be most turbulent.

It also tells you how wind speeds compare to average, and therefore whether you’re likely to have a delayed arrival. Don’t read too much into this, but rather this is a general prediction — I’ve had transpacific flights that have arrived an hour late or two hours early due to extreme wind conditions, so this is simply intended to reflect that.

Lastly, Turbli predicts how smooth your takeoff and landing will be, based on the runways being used and anticipated crosswinds at your departure and arrival airport.

This is awesome, but don’t read too much into it

I love the concept of Turbli, though let me of course caution not to read too much into this. This is a website basically making predictions for virtually all flights, so it’s never going to factor in everything that a pilot could factor in.

Don’t take predictions about your flight as gospel, whether we’re talking about the odds of a delay or the chances of significant turbulence. Nonetheless, this is a fun site for avgeeks, and perhaps it’s potentially reassuring for those who may have fear of turbulence.

In the hour since finding out about this site I’ve already spent way too much time trying to find the most turbulent flight possible. Generally speaking in my experience that would typically be any eastbound transpacific Cathay Pacific flight, but even they don’t seem to be particularly turbulent right now. šŸ˜‰

The best I can do is a flight with moderate turbulence (and it’s on the lower end of the moderate scale), so can anyone find something a bit bumpier?

Bottom line

Turbli is a cool website that uses wind speed to predict turbulence, delays, and how smooth takeoffs and landings will be. While I absolutely wouldn’t read too much into this, it’s a cool website for any avgeek who enjoys this kind of stuff.

Anyone else find this concept to be generally interesting?

  1. Lol yeah, your traffic looks to have caused that site to crash. Cool idea, there was a site where you’d send your flight info a few days before and they’d send you a turbulence report the morning of your flight (or afternoon if it was an evening flight) for a cost. Never used it, but probably was pretty decent since this was a former pilot/meteorologist or something.

    I think the best though is Turbulence Forecast, max turbulence potential page. Put in your altitude (can get this off FlightAware) and you can see for current and different times in the future how bad the turbulence could get. I’ve found this to be very accurate and it is pretty live as well because it updates throughout the day and forecasts as I said in the future as well.

    The current forecast for 31k right now if you were in the air. Scroll down to see the different altitudes and times.

  2. I agree with S about being excellent for this purpose. While it is far from perfect (as is any weather forecast), I have been impressed with how accurate that it has been on many of my flights, including ones where I would look at the in-flight map along with the map on this site. I have found it especially useful for things such as using the lavatory shortly before the turbulence begins.

  3. I love turbulence. Your best chance for crazy turbulence is SE Asia. The Java sea is nuts. Otherwise the winter with strong headwinds is a good bet. You need big temperature changes thatā€™s what causes turbulence. I hate when pilots request to change altitude to find smoother air. People in the main cabin screaming. Everyone in first class sleeps through it.

  4. I make my own turbulence predictions. Once I saw the weather forecast. Chicago 50 degrees, Pittsburgh 33. I knew there would be turbulence over Ohio. Sure enough, it was quite bumpy. My method is not as accurate with north-south or south-north flights.

  5. Flying to Tahiti was pretty turbulent with the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone. I would love to fly to Australia but dread any thought of being over the Pacific dodging thunderstorms. I keep thinking of the movie Castaway.

  6. What are users expected to do with the information from Turbli? Its not as though users are going to cancel flights based on this information. If you don’t like turbulence, no amount of predeparture information is going to make it any easier to manage.

  7. Nice concept but lots of errors. Says there are no direct flights IAD-PBI tomorrow, gives the wrong number of runways at IAD and also for the flights today has the wrong aircraft type.

  8. Really cool site! Been playing around with it and it looks like as accurate of a prediction as one could possibly expect in advance of a flight (even flight crews are surprised by turbulence sometimes). I’ve bookmarked this one.

    ‘Thanks for the tip, Lucky!

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