Introduction To Flight Simulator Weather

Understand how simulated weather operates

Weather is one of the most challenging elements of real-world flying. You often don't know exactly what conditions you'll find along the route or at your destination. You may break out of a thick cloud layer on an instrument approach only to confront a driving snowstorm, or you may breathe a sigh of relief as the clouds open up, allowing an easy visual approach.

Flight Simulator weather gives you the option of choosing preset weather conditions (Themes), downloading weather from the Web (Real-world weather), or specifying your own custom conditions (User-defined weather).

What's New with Flight Simulator Weather?

This version of Flight Simulator (FS9 - FS2004) includes significant new weather features.

What's New with Flight Simulator Weather?

This version of Flight Simulator includes significant new weather features.

New Weather Themes

The easiest way to set weather in Flight Simulator is to choose one of the weather Themes. Themes are pre-built weather systems that are centered on the current location of your aircraft. To learn about using Themes, see Using Weather Themes.

New Dynamic Conditions

When using the Dynamic Weather slider on the Weather screen, atmospheric conditions in Flight Simulator affect the formation or dissipation of clouds, the onset of precipitation, and the movement of frontal systems. For the first time, you can set time-changing conditions along your route, making clouds form and move across the sky with the wind. To learn more, see Weather Options.

You can now have real-world data automatically updated every fifteen minutes as you fly! A greater variety of cloud types are created based on data downloaded from the Web, and turbulence is deduced from atmospheric conditions. To learn about using Real-world weather,
see Using Real-World Weather.

Updated Cloud Appearance

If you've used Flight Simulator before, you'll notice a great improvement in the appearance of clouds. The cloud art has been updated and includes more types of clouds, with more variations of each cloud type. Clouds now appear in the distance, and you can fly up to and through them.

Updated Rain and Snow Graphics

Rain and snow are denser than in previous versions. The effect of rain or snow hitting the windscreen has been improved, and the particle graphics now offer four times as much variety.


The Weather Dialog Box

Think of the Weather dialog box as "weather central," the place where you choose the method you'll use to create weather. Weather themes allow you to choose from prebuilt weather systems and offers a fast path to complex weather settings. Real-world weather downloads real-world weather from Jeppesen. User-defined weather brings up a secondary dialog box where you can select your own custom weather. You can use the User-Defined Weather dialog box to make quick, broad changes to weather conditions for specific weather stations, or for the entire world.

For details on each of these choices, read the articles in the Related Links section at the top of this article.

Dynamic Weather

When the Dynamic weather slider is set to None, weather in Flight Simulator will remain as you set it in the User-defined weather dialog box or as it was downloaded from the Internet. When this option is set to Mild, Medium, High, or Extreme, weather conditions will change dynamically depending on the atmospheric conditions set in the Weather dialog box. For example, at the Mild setting, it might take a couple of hours to see much change in the weather. At the Extreme setting, you'll likely see changes in 15 to 20 minutes.

Dynamic weather applies to all three weather types: Weather themes, Real-world weather, and User-defined weather. Clouds, winds, and precipitation will form and dissipate over time depending on the conditions chosen or downloaded.


To change the rate at which weather changes

  1. From the main screen, click Create a Flight.
  2. In the Selected weather box, click Change.
  3. Move the Rate at which weather changes over time slider to the desired setting.
  4. Click OK.
  1. On the Options menu, point to Settings and then click Weather.
  2. Move the Rate at which weather changes over time slider to the desired setting.
  3. Click OK.

The Weather Settings Dialog Box

You can also set three options using the Weather settings dialog box. You can choose to get winds aloft data with real-world weather downloads, you can disable the effect that turbulence has on aircraft, and you can adjust the rate at which weather changes in Flight Simulator.


To change weather options

  • On the main screen, click Settings, and then click Weather.
  • On the Options menu, point to Settings, and then click Weather.

Weather Stations in Flight Simulator

In the real world, weather information is gathered by all kinds of measuring devices at weather stations. In Flight Simulator, the locations of the real-world weather stations are replicated, but instead of just reporting the weather there, Flight Simulator creates weather around those locations. In other words, if you select the weather station at London's Heathrow airport and change weather settings, the weather conditions that you set will only apply within an area of a few miles around Heathrow. If you select several stations around Heathrow and set those same weather conditions, the area in which the conditions appear becomes larger. You can set specific conditions at a specific weather station or group of stations, or set weather for all the stations in the world at one time. See Using User-Defined Weather for detailed instructions on how to set custom weather conditions.

The image below depicts the approximate distribution of weather stations around the world.