The CIP and FIP graphics are computer-generated three-dimensional analyses of information related to the likelihood of encountering icing conditions. This information is available for the 48 contiguous United States, much of Canada and Mexico, and their respective coastal waters.
The CIP/FIP graphics suite is automatically produced with no human modifications. Information on the graphics is determined from observational data including WSR-88D radar, satellite, pilot weather reports, surface weather reports, lightning and computer model output. The CIP represents the latest analysis of potential icing regions. Besides the most-recent analyses, a forecast of anticipated icing conditions is available in the FIP product.
NOTE: CIP/FIP is intended for flight planning purposes and should always be used in combination with icing information from all available sources including AIRMETs, SIGMETs, and PIREPs. CIP/FIP aid flight planning and situational awareness through graphical depiction of current and forecast icing conditions across an area or along a route of flight.
NOTE: Pilots of aircraft that are not certified for flight into known or forecast icing conditions should be especially cautious of areas displaying any type of icing severity, regardless of the probability indicated on CIP graphics.
CIP/FIP provide information on expected icing severity as five categories: none, trace, light, moderate, and heavy. On the display this field can be shown for all icing probabilities or masked (gray areas) to show only icing severity at icing probabilities greater than 25 or 50%.
The severity estimations are roughly based on the accretion rate of ice on an airplane, and the levels are determined by the time it would take for an airfoil to accrete 1/4 in on ice: trace, 1 h; light, 15 min-1 h; moderate, 5-15 min; and heavy < 5 min. The rates are, in turn, estimated from the amount of supercooled liquid water expected with a nominal drop diameter of 15 microns, and are further tuned by nearby pilot reports of encountered severity. These are relative values and the use of which should take into account the airframe and the level of icing protection provided by the aircraft. The ultimate safety factor is the vigilance demonstrated by the pilot in potential icing situations.
NOTE: CIP/FIP severity estimates are not synonymous with the icing PIREP severities of trace, light, moderate, and severe. Icing PIREP severities are subjective estimates by the pilot of the rate of accumulation combined with the use of aircraft deicing systems whereas CIP/FIP severity estimates are an attempt to provide guidance based from the characterization of the meteorological environment.
Different aircraft and different flight configurations (airspeed, angle of attack, etc.) will experience variations in accretion rate. These rates have been simulated for a range of aircraft and are a "broad brush" approach to severity prediction. They are presented here as guidance and supplement the primary forecasts produced as AIRMETs by the Aviation Weather Center.
For additional information, consult this: How to Properly Use an Icing Forecast.