by Lucian Haas (Lu-glidz) (translated from the original German by Judith Mole)
Two sailplane and paraglider pilots have produced a detailed map of the valley winds in the eastern Alps. The map also shows typical lee side areas as well as the main thermal spots.
Simon Lemmerer and Werner Luidolt are graphic designers as well as enthusiastic sailplane and paraglider pilots. Together they have achieved something that pilots in the Alps have presumably been wishing for for years: a map which shows the typical valley winds in different areas. They have given their project an appropriate name - Viento (which means "wind" in Spanish).
The "Valley Wind Map of the Eastern Alps" (Talwindkarte) features the complete area of the eastern Alps, from the Bodensee to the Wiener Neustadt in the north and from Bellinzona to Slovenia in the south. The direction of the valley winds in all large, and the majority of smaller valleys, is indicated with arrows. The strength of the wind is indicated by the size and thickness of the arrow. The information is based on their experience and that of many other pilots who used their local knowledge
to supplement and correct the information.
Please note: the map shows the ideal scenario. Depending on the time of day and the strength of the supra-regional met winds, the reality might be different!
The map is of interest to cross-country pilots for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, it offers a very good three-dimensional depiction of the mountains, which is helpful for getting an overview of the relief and assists with visualisation during flight planning. If the map is completely unfolded (1260x500 mm), it offers a completely different perspective than can be gained from little on-screen sections. Furthermore, the map offers additional information as well as the valley winds. The main thermal hotspots are marked. And classic lee side traps are marked too, where the valley winds pour over the mountain slopes throughout the day. The Viento map is therefore particularly useful for less experienced pilots. It is an effective tool to learn how to read the terrain.
As well as the valley wind map, Viento has also produced a "Thermal Map of the Eastern Alps" (Thermikkarte). Though this is aimed more at sailplane pilots. It features only the strongest mountain top thermals along typical cross-country routes, as well as good, doable and emergency landing options for sailplane pilots. However, this map is still very useful for paraglider pilots when planning a flight. The main peaks that paragliders will approach during a cross-country flight are highlighted and their altitude displayed.
Tip: Three years ago the Swiss Hang-gliding Association (SHV) published a valley wind map of the Swiss Alps. You can download a printable PDF version here.