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℃.
Q1004: The 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.