All you who have been flying previous Microsoft Flight Simulator editions do know the weather engine was quite lame. So-called real-world weather was based only on a local aviation weather observation data from the airports, known as the METAR. A typical METAR contains data for the temperature, dew point, wind direction and speed, precipitation, cloud cover and heights, visibility, and barometric pressure. This weather data is updated by observations every 30 minutes and sometimes more often if there’s happening something specific weather changes like suddenly stronger wind speeds or thunderstorm cloud developing into active lightning.
If you were flying any previous MSFS editions with real-world weather set online and the weather gets its update to the simulator every half an hour, you could visually see the change in the weather happening in a flash. I know it was not built to change the weather any other way by the time but it was awful. Suddenly change from calm cirrus clouds alike blue sky to total fog without single transitions in the weather graphics during a visual approach could end up bad. There were some freeware and payware weather add-ons for MSFS which could enable some weather engine tweaks, but still, it was like from the stone age.
The next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator has a re-built weather engine from zero and now receives weather observation and forecast data, not just from the airports but from all over the world. The Earth in new MSFS has divided into 250 million weather boxes so you can experience real-world weather even in the middle of the ocean. The sky is vertically divided into 60 different layers from the ground to the stratosphere to generate amazing cloud visuals of the weather data. There are also 20 layers of other data such as temperature, wind, pressure, and humidity. The most exciting feature for me is to see the rain showers and thunderstorm lightning from the distance and bypassing them is possible if you don’t want to wash your plane before landing.
A Swiss company called Meteoblue has been working with the MSFS team for two years and initially they had a much simpler weather engine in mind. At first, they were going to just add airport weathers and upper winds but the projects grew much bigger as we have read. In addition to all this, they included full three-dimensional icing risk data from cloud microphysics. So flying into icy conditions will start to build ice on your plane and too much ice on your wings can eventually drop your plane down. This is also added to graphics visuals so ice can be seen to accumulate. Winter hasn’t been forgotten, if snow showers are coming to snowless ground areas, you can see the snow amounts growing slowly.
Microsoft Flight Simulator will be available for Windows 10 on August 18, 2020, as downloadable worldwide from Microsoft Store and Steam as well as boxed disc-publication from Aerosoft. Prices are for Standard 69.99 EUR, Deluxe 89.99 EUR, and Premium Deluxe 119.99 EUR.