How to Decode a METAR
How to Read an Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR)
Aviators use METAR reports to get essential knowledge of flying conditions. To the casual observer this may look like a string of random numbers and letters, but this article tells you how to decode such a report.
Obtain the Report.The following wikiHow uses a METAR showing weather conditions at the United States Air Force Academy. The Report referred to is:
METAR KAFF 212355Z COR VRB05KT 15SM FEW040 SCT060 SCT075 SCT090 BKN220 15/M01 A2957 RMK ACSL DSNT SE-S SLP960 SHRA DSNT N-E-SE AND DSNT NW 60001 55000 LAST COR 0043
Assess the Type of Report (METAR).It will be either:
- METAR = Routine Hourly report; or
- SPECI = Special, unscheduled report.
Note the Station Identifier (KAFF).K is the prefix for location Identifiers in the Continental US. AFF = Air Force Academy airfield. The international specifications for METARs are published by the World Meterological Organization (WMO). For example, EGLL is used for London Heathrow and RJAA for Tokyo Narita airports.
Note the Date/Time (212355Z).The first two numbers are the day of the month followed by the time in Zulu (aka Universal or Greenwich Mean Time). In this case, the report was made on the 21st day of the month at 2355 Zulu (1755 local time). Note: The report gives no indication of the month or year.
Look for the Modifier (COR).If present, it will be either:
- AUTO = automated station;
- COR = corrected automated report.
Check the Wind Information (VRB05KT).The first three numbers are the direction the wind is from (true heading) or "VRB" for variable, followed by the speed in knots. If the wind is gusting, the highest gust will be displayed after the wind speed. For example, winds from the North at a speed of 7 knots with a gust up to 15 knots would be displayed "36007G15KT".
Check the Visibility (15SM).The prevailing visibility in statute miles (SM). Fractions are displayed with a space, 1 1/2SM. Additional visibility for a runway may also appear in the report as R (for runway) followed by the selected runway, a slash (/), and the visibility in feet for that runway. For example R36L/2,400 feet (731.5 m) would denote a visibility of 2,400 feet (731.5 m) for runway 36 left.
View the Present Weather (it's absent in this example).This may include one or more of the following: Intensity, Descriptor, Precipitation, Obscuration, and other phenomenon. See table below:
Intensity Descriptor Precipitation Obscuration Other
- Light MI Shallow DZ Drizzle BR Mist PO Dust/Sand whirls Moderate (no qualifier) BC Patches RA Rain FG Fog SQSqualls + Heavy DR Low Drifting SN Snow FU Smoke FC Funnel Cloud VC In the vicinity BL Blowing SG Snow Grains DU Dust +FC Tornado or Waterspout SH Showers IC Ice Crystals SA Sand SS Sandstorm TS Thunderstorm PL Ice Pellets HZ Haze DS Duststorm FZ Freezing GR Hail PY Spray PR Partial GS Small Hail or Snow Pellets VA Volcanic Ash UP Unknown Precipitation*
Note the Sky Condition (FEW040 SCT060 SCT075 SCT090 BKN220).The first three letters tell the amount of sky covered.
- SKC = Clear (manual report);
- CLR = Clear (automated report);
- FEW = Few (1/8 to 2/8 of sky covered);
- SCT = Scattered (3/8 to 4/8 of sky covered);
- BKN = Broken (5/8 to 7/8 of sky covered);
- OVC = Overcast (total sky coverage).
The following numbers indicate the height of the base of the clouds in hundreds of feet above the ground. The ceiling is the lowest cloud deck reported as either BKN or OVC. In the example, the ceiling is at 22,000 feet (6,705.6 m).
View the Temperature/Dew Point (15/M01).This is the temperature reported in C° and the dewpoint, also in C°. An 'M' means Minus.
Check the Altimeter Setting (A2957).This is the equivalent sea level pressure in inches of Mercury ("Hg). For example, A2957 = 29.57"Hg. Pilots use this information to ensure their altimeter is displaying the correct altitude. 29.92 is standard.
Note the Remarks (RMK ACSL DSNT SE-S SLP960 SHRA DSNT N-E-SE AND DSNT NW 60001 55000 LAST COR 0043).Any remarks that may be useful, such as when a thunderstorm began or ended, type of station, sea level pressure, temperature to the tenth of a degree, etc. In the example:
- ACSL DSNT SE-S = altocumulus standing lenticular clouds in the distant (beyond 10SM) south-east through south.
- SLP960 = Sea level pressure (in tenths of hectopascals) 996.0hPa. The 10 or 9 at the beginning is omitted. Add the number that brings it closest to 1,000.0.
- SHRA DSNT N-E-SE AND DSNT NW = moderate rain showers in the distant north through east through south-east and distant north-west.
- 60001 55000 = additive and automated maintenance data.
- LAST COR 0043 = last correction at 43 minutes past the hour.
Find your Local Airport Readings.Use the links below to find METAR reports for your local airport.
QuestionIs ceiling height in MSL or AGL?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIn aerodrome forecasts like METAR, ceiling info will be in AGL since you'll be landing or taking off.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find winds aloft?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to the Aviation Weather website. Once there, look on the top and hit the "Forecast" drop-down box. Look for "Winds/Temp" and click on it. Once you are there, look on the map of the United States and click the region and state that you are in on the map.Thanks!
What does a flight dispatcher do?
What do the pictures tell you when showing a very windy day?
If the wind sensor is down and the ASOS is going AUTO, what goes in the RMK? I have been looking in the SWOP and can not find an answer.
Thank you for this very helpful information. How can I see other articles of yours?
- Find your local airport and practice reading the METAR and then checking it with the conditions outside.
- NAV Canada has a great site for METAR's 
Sources and Citations
Categories: | |
In other languages:
Español: , Русский: , Italiano:
Jun 12, 2019
Jun 30, 2019
Jan 30, 2019
Jul 7, 2019
May 31, 2019
Apr 9, 2019
Mar 9, 2019
Jun 11, 2019
Feb 26, 2019
May 21, 2019
May 17, 2019
Dec 29, 2019
Oct 14, 2019
Aug 30, 2019
Mar 9, 2019
May 30, 2019
May 8, 2019
Video: Aviation Routine Weather Report METAR
Prosecco and Lychee Jellies Recipe
The Boy Scouts Will Now Allow Transgender Kids to Join
Definitive Proof That Celebrities Look Better at the Gym thanYou
Op déze manier kwam ik van mijn acne af
Cooking Oil Options
These Homemade Christmas Gift Ideas Dont Look DIY at All
How to Write Unit Tests
Outfits with Black Leggings – 21 Ways to Wear Black Leggings
How to Get Started Using Excel: Tips for Beginners
High-street cosmetic surgery clinics unregulated’
How to Fish (for Beginners)
How to Transition From Nerd to Muscle Man