The Harley shop didn’t open until 10am, so I filed for an 11am departure thinking we might not get off until noon. I took a look at the developing weather and decided that a straight shot would be better than including a stop over.
My reasoning is as follows:
- Late start and a layover gets me home in the dark. Darker is colder and colder is icier.
- Cold front is moving south into the Carolinas.
- IFR and Low IFR from Georgia up into Virginia.
- Thunderstorms were possible in the panhandle to the coast. I didn’t expect it though.
- Weather in the subsequent days will not be VFR and will ramp up the risks somewhat.
What we experienced on the way home:
- Temps on the ground at Florida were 23 C / falling to 15 C at 8000′
- VFR up to the Florida/Georgia border
- Moving out over the ocean we stayed above a smooth stratus layer. The clouds looked like endless snow banks.
- Back over land, the tops rose to met us and brought on the bumps. I considered briefly a descent to get under the layer for a smoother ride, but waited it out. It paid off as we slid out the other side and were above the layer again.
- Now we were over the low IFR zone. I’d performed a low approach into Kingstons, NC only a few weeks before, so I didn’t see any issues getting in here if needed.
- Approaching Norfolk, the layer came up and over us again.
- I put Ted in charge of watching the windshield and wings for ice. That is what I have been expecting based on the forecast and how far north we’ve traveled.
- I was on the gauges and noticed ice on the windscreen; looked at the wings and saw it there too; then me and Ted did icing 101.
- Contacted ATC for a descent due to ice and it was granted right away. They asked me to let them know when the icing stopped; and that was 8000′ and now in solid IMC.
- Heading further north the temperature kept dropping. Down to 7C at this point and passing Melfa, Va.
- The XM Weather told me that Melfa and Wallops Island were at 3800 ovc and we slid out of the layer as the tops sloped down to 7000′ over Salisbury.
- Patuxent gave us a descent to 3000′ south of Salisbury. We descended into the deck and Ted called out ICE – we are learning now.
- I confirm more ice than the first time – but honestly not much at all. I already know I’ll be clear out the bottom, and pushed the nose over to 1000fpm as the ice continued to slowly accumulate. Temps dropped now to -1C and the ice more persistent.
- We pop into the clear underneath, and not long later slid out into VFR conditions and on into Georgetown.
I left the airplane in Georgetown to have the new AI swapped out for a replacement unit that actually worked with the autopilot. I did benefit from 1.5 hours of hand flown IMC though, it was a good thing.
Ted and I drove my truck home, and all of the planning paid off handsomely.