I hope Santa paid everyone a visit. While enroute to Florida he must have encountered light to moderate turbulence this morning because I know I did.
The morning started with a 5:15 check in. I took my visiting sister-in-law with me to the airport as she was returning to Halifax. I should have been in a good mood.
I meet my F/O and we notice significant thunderstorms on the radar covering most of South Carolina, Georgia and the northern half of Florida. Oh great! I call flight dispatch and they give me a song and dance that they have not intensified. Yes, but they are still there. While others are opening gifts, I'm thinking convective turbulence.
I had to get rid my morning grumpiness by getting a coffee but you would not believe the Toronto airport. It was packed including Tim Hortons and plan B Star bucks (two coffee emporiums). I had to resort to a "Second Cup" airplane coffee.
As you know, I always offer the F/O the first leg. He couldn't decide so I flipped a coin. It was my leg to Miami.
A major system was skirting Ontario and we got light chop in the climb. The thunderstorms started to pop up further south. We had a full load of passengers and could only get to FL350.
Not high enough. We skirted overhangs, convective clouds not "painting" on the radar coupled with heavy precipitation encountered at flight level 350 with a temperature outside of -57c.
I.E we were in updrafts. I must admit the blood pressure was elevated. I was maneuvering on heading mode for almost half the flight of three hours.
Finally in the descent into Miami we found smooth air. Miami approach vectored us really tight to the FAF (final approach fix) and kept us high. Here we go - a slam dunk approach. Plus she wanted us to keep the speed up. In order to regain a stable approach it was flight directors off with the gear down out of sequence. She did say, "Merry Christmas" while passing us off to tower. We land. But in 30 minutes we will be returning to where the skies were not happy.
I notice the flight plan back was basically the same way we came but we only had 60 passengers so we were light meaning we could fly higher.
We encountered light to moderate turbulence from 20,000 feet to 35,000 feet. At flight 390 it was smooth and we managed to duck around the thunderstorms with only a few bumps.
I set the park park back in Toronto one minute early. Singer Nelly Fortado was on my flight. I asked the in-charge to get her to sign my book, but she slept the entire flight.
Oh well, it's off to relatives for Christmas dinner.