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Decoding METAR reports

Like TAF reports, reading a METAR is not very difficult they use the same format. It takes some time to get used to reading these abbreviations but this learning process will happen very quickly. Below we have a table with examples of METAR reports.

Apart from our exmaple below, see the next link to obtain actual current TAFs or METARs from airports around the globe.

For a more detailed explanation see this METAR/TAF manual. Note: end of 2008 (Nov, 5) some changes were made to the TAF format.

Decoding table for Aviation Routine Weather Report - METAR

Get a current METAR report nearby and compare it with our decoding table presented here:

Code Element Example Decode Notes
Report type METAR 'METAR - Aviation routine report' Name for this aerodrome forecast
Location EHRD 'Rotterdam Zestienhoven' Station four letter ICAO indicator
Date/Time of Report 130500Z '13th at 05:00 Z' Day of the month and UTC (Z) time
Wind 31015G27KT '310 degrees 15 kts gusts to 27Kts' Max only if >= 10Kts greater than mean. VRB=variable. 00000KT = calm
Direction Variance 280V350 'varying between 280 degrees and 350 degrees' Given in clockwise direction, only when mean speed > 3Kts
Visibility 1500 '1500 meters visibility' 0000 = less than 50m, 9999 = more than 10Km
Sometimes direction is given: 1400SW N US: vis in SM, P6SM = more than 6SM
RVR R27R/0900 'runway visual range, runway 27R 0900 meters' RVR tendency (U=increasing, D=decreasing, N=no change) may be added. Variations= R24/0800V1200 Vis. between 0800m and 1200m
Present Weather -SHSN 'light snow showers' + = heavy, - = light, no qualifier = moderate
BC=patches, BL=blowing, BR=mist, DR=drifting, DS=Duststorm, DU=dust, DZ=drizzle, FC=funnel cloud, FG=fog, FU=smoke, FZ=freezing, GR=hail, GS=small hail, HZ=haze, IC=ice crystals, MI=shallow, PL=ice pellets, PO=dust devils, PR=banks, RA=rain, SA=sand, SH=showers, SG=snow grains, SN=snow, SQ=squalls, SS=sandstorm, TS=thunderstorm, VA=volcanic ash
Cloud FEW003
'few at 500', scattered Cumulonimbus at 1500',
broken at 3000' '
SKC=sky clear (0=ctas), FEW=few (1-2octas) SCT=scattered (3-4octas), BKN=broken (5-7octas) OVC=overcast. Only two types reported, TCU and CB
CAVOK CAVOK 'cav-oh-kay'
clouds and visibility ok
Visibility greater than 10Km, no CB, no cloud below 5000' and no significant weather
Temp / Dew point 10/03 'Temp 10 degrees and dewpoint 03 degrees' If no dewpoint then it shows 10///
QNH Q1042 'QNH 1042' Q indicates millibars (hectopascals), A means inches of mercury
Recent Weather RETS RERA 'Recent thunderstorm / Recent rain' RE=recent, weather codes see above, max three groups
Wind Shear WS RWY24 'windshear runway 24'  
1620 24030G55KT
FM1819 +TSRA
'becoming from 1600Z til 2000Z wind 240
degrees 30Kts gusts to 55Kts, temporarily
from 1800Z til 1900Z heavy rain with
BECMG=becoming, TEMPO=temporarily, NOSIG=no significant change, NSW=no sig weather, AT=at, FM=from, TL until, NSC=no sig cloud

To complete this we have included a fictional METAR from Amsterdam/Schiphol airport:

METAR example

2015/12/23 14:25 EHAM 231425Z 10007KT 060V130 3200 BR BKN007 OVC008 03/01 Q1041 NOSIG


METAR issued at 2015/12/23 14:25Z
Amsterdam Schiphol issued 23th at 1425Z wind 100 at 7 kts variable between 060 degrees and 130 degrees, visibility 3200 m mist (brume), broken clouds at 700', overcast at 800', temp 03 dewpoint 01, QNH 1041 and no significant change within the next 2 hours

Another example of a METAR/TAF decoder can be found in this Eurocontrol METAR/TAF Guide.

Written by EAI.

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