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METAR (Meteorological Terminal Air Report) is an international meteorological standard format for reporting current weather observations. Let’s check out a realistic example for starting to learn how to interpret it.

 

LEMD 042330Z 13004KT 9999 SCT030 BKN044 11/09 Q1006 NOSIG

 

LEMD: The first code shows us the airport identifier where the weather report is coming from. In this case, LEMD is Adolfo Suarez Madrid-Barajas Airport, Madrid, Spain.

042330Z: “04” represent the day of the current month when this report was originated. The last four digits refers that the report was created at 23:30 in Zulu time. 

13004KT: The wind blows from 130 degrees to a wind speed of 04 knots. The wind speed can be measured in knots (KT) and meters per second (MPS). A letter “G” before the value of the wind speed means that the winds are gusting and in the case of a “V” there exist a variable wind. Otherwise, if you see all zeroes, it is indicating us that the wind is very mild.

 

  • Main acronyms and abbreviations 
RA = Rain FZ = Freezing BR = Mist
SA = Sand GR = Hail DR = Low Drifting
SG = Snow Grains GS = Small Hail DS = Dust Storm
SH = Shower HZ = Haze DU = Widespread Dust
SN = Snow PO = Dust Devils DZ = Drizzle
SQ = Squall IC = Ice Crystals FG = Fog
SS = Sandstorm BC = Patches  FC = Funnel Cloud
TS = Thunderstorm PL = Ice Pellets FU = Smoke
VA = Volcanic  BL = Blowing NOSIG = No significant changes

 

9999: This value means a prevailing visibility of 10 km or greater.

SCT018: This means that there are scattered clouds at a height of 1,800 ft. Keep in mind that clouds are classified depending on how many “Octas” of sky they can reach. 

  • SKC = Sky Clear
  • FEW (Few) = 1-2 octas
  • SCT (Scattered) = 3-4 octas
  • BKN (Broken) = 5-7 octas
  • OVC (Overcast) = 8 octas

The term CAVOK (Ceiling And Visibility OK) is used when there exist no clouds and visibility is of 10 km or more.

BKN044: Broken cloud layer at 4,400 feet high.

11/09: The first two numbers indicate us that the air temperature in Celsius is 11 degrees, and the last digits reveals the dew point in 9℃.

Q1004The atmospheric surface pressure of the current station is 1004 hPa. This value can measured in either hectoPascals or Inches of Mercury. 

NOSIG: Finally, this code suggests no significant weather changes.

Beside of METARs, TAF (Terminal Aerodrome Forecast) is a supplementary format for reporting weather forecast information. In this Master you will learn how to decode these reports due to its importance in the Aeronautical Meteorology sector.