XC Map Basics
To get the most out of XC Maps, let's review a few key points. The below screenshot labels the main features to review. At first, this might seem overwhelming, so let's take each section at a time.
Dates and Time
In numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, the notion of time can feel complicated to navigate. Understanding when forecasts are run and the hours they represent is something that XC Skies tries to simplify. This is done by showing your local selected time in all locations when dates and times are shown on the website.
A simple day and hour matrix (table) is at the top of the map by default in the desktop website. For the mobile version, a simple day and hour feature is used. With your proper timezone set, all of the days and hours display as your local time. The hours are stacked so it's easy to move around to the next forecast days.
Desktop website showing days and hours
Mobile website showing day and hour
One hidden feature is to use the < or > (greater than, less than) keys on your key board to change the hour forward or backward. All features on the map will automatically adjust to the new time. You can also use the [ or ] keys (square brackets) on your keyboard to change the day in the same way.
The calendar icon will open a dialogue box to select a different day. XC Skies only keep the last 5 days of forecasts available on the website.
Sun Angle & Solar Noon
This color gradient below the hours for the days shown depict the angle of the sun for the center point on the viewable map. In this case, for the viewed map, on April 24, Solar Noon occurs at roughly 13:30 local time (or 1:30 pm). Solar Noon is the moment the sun angle is the highest in the sky (crossing the celestial meridian, an imaginary line from north to south poles). This moment indicates the moment of greatest (most direct) incoming solar radiation. The notation of solar Noon provides a quick reference in XC Skies for where to look for maximum thermal organization and lift, which is often the hour just past soar Noon through sunset on typical "fair weather" days. There are, or course, plenty of exceptions.
Try moving the map around. You’ll see the sun angle indicator update automatically on every map location change.
Timezone Offset Selection
The timezone offset can be changed by clicking on the highlighted offset number at the top of the data-time selection or within the units settings page. These are located here, with a selection window opening when clicked to change:
The various models available within XC Skies will show on the top of the application. On the desktop version, all models are displayed horizontally, side-by-side. For the mobile version, it is collapsed and selectable as a button.
The forecast models available for the map viewport will show as selectable, while the model outside of the map bounds will be inactive links, such as the ICON European nested model in the above example.
The layers available for each model can be a little different. Select a layer on the left of the desktop website to view that parameter on the map. Make sure to apply the proper opacity to provide the proper context of the layer when needed.
Although not a traditional "sun clock" this widget shows the hours of the day arranged with Solar Noon at the top of the clock.
This depicts solar Noon for the center point on the viewable map. In this case, for Central Utah, USA on April 24, solar Noon occurs at 13:28 local time (or 1:28 pm). Solar Noon is the moment the sun angle is the highest in the sky (crossing the celestial meridian, an imaginary line from north to south poles). This moment indicates the moment of greatest (most direct) incoming solar radiation. The notation of solar Noon provides a quick reference in XC Skies for where to look for maximum thermal organization and lift, which is often the hour just past soar Noon through sunset. Sunrise and sunset are also noted with twilight depicted in the purple-ish color spanning past the sun icon.
This simple clock depiction provides the proper obvious selection for forecast times depending on what type of XC adventure you’re after.
Try moving the map around. You’ll see the sun clock update automatically on every map location change.