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Decoding METAR reports

Like TAF reports, reading a METAR is not very difficult: they both 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 example 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 - 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 27 Kts' 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 50 m, 9999 = more than 10 km
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
BKN030
SCT015CB
'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 10 km, 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'  
Trend BECMG FM
1620 24030G55KT
TEMPO
FM1819 +TSRA
'becoming from 1600Z til 2000Z wind 240
degrees 30Kts gusts to 55Kts, temporarily
from 1800Z til 1900Z heavy rain with
thunderstorms'
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

Decoded

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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