Chasing Storm Isaias in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Sometimes it’s fine to just talk about the weather. The past couple of days a friend has been telling me, over one of the WhatsApp groups that’s kept me sane the past few months, about the storm that’s been hitting his part of the world. Storm Isaias hit the Carolinas earlier this week before tearing a path up through Virginia, New Jersey and the east coast of America. It’s a ferocious thing, leaving millions without power – it left my friend in Connecticut in the dark – and sadly much worse, claiming lives on its way. I was curious to see it up close, from the safety of my own home, via the new Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Real-time weather – or as close to real-time as you can reasonably get – is a key feature here, with data being pulled in from Meteoblue, where observations are combined with complex predictions to get something approaching accuracy. I’m no meteorologist, so I can’t speak precisely to its authenticity – and I’m afraid my own methodology when exploring how accurate it is isn’t particularly scientific. All I know is that when I went to check the progress of Isaias on smart weather visualization site Windy and tabbed back into Microsoft Flight Sim, it was close enough to not be bothered by the difference.

So I set off at first from Richmond International Airport, heading north into the tail-end of Isaias. And it is, as you expect, absolutely miserable, with next-to-no visibility. I’m still a relative newcomer to this flight sim lark, so while I should be beholden to instrument flight rules and use the intricate array of dials and software to guide me I simply head straight into the murk to get a feel for what it’s like flying in such extreme conditions.

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