METAR’s can be confusing and look like a foreign language to a student pilot or other pilots that may have not flown in a while. You can find METAR for any airport by going to aviationweather.gov or using any aviation mobile app such as: Foreflight.
Aviation Routine Weather Report (METAR), is an observation of the current weather conditions at a given time and location i.e. airport.
METAR’s are issued ever 50-55 minutes past the hour, and are valid for one hour or until a new one is released.
Below is a sample METAR that we have broken down.
KSEA 111548Z AUTO 26005KT 4SM -RA BR BKN008 BKN014 OVC049 07/06 A3009 RMK AO2 P0008
KSEA - 4-character ICAO identifier. This report is for Seattle-Tacoma International, Washington
K – Is used for the lower 48 states in the U.S. i.e.
KLAX (Los Angeles), KSAN (San Diego), KORD (Chicago O’Hare)
Other U.S. station identifiers are; PA – Alaska and PH – Hawaii Islands
111548Z – Date and Time.
11th – is the day of the month
1548Z is always given in Zulu time (UTC).
AUTO – means that, the report is not given by a person i.e. ATC.
If the METAR is given by ATC, then the AUTO will disappear from the report.
26005KT – Wind direction and speed.
260 degrees from the West.
Wind speed is at 05 Knots
4SM – visibility is given in statute miles (SM), 4 statute miles.
-RA – Light rain (the minus symbol means light, RA is for rain).
BR – Mist
BKN008 – Means clouds are broken at 800 feet AGL.
BKN014 – clouds are broken at 1,400 feet.
OVC – means over cast clouds at 4,900 feet.
07/06 – Temperature and Dew point are in Celsius (C).
Temperature is 07⁰Celsius and the dewpoint in 06⁰C
A3009 – Current altimeter setting, 30.09".
RMK – Remarks, means there is additional information.
AO2 – Automated station with a precipitation sensor.
P0008 – ‘P’ means precipitation. The numbers indicate the amount (0008 = 00.08 inches fallen in the last hour).
Additional METAR Symbols:
The above METAR sample does not show all of the possible symbols. Every METAR report is different. Below is a list of common symbols you will or may see on other METAR’s.
COR – Corrected observation, disregard previous report.
SPECI – (Special Report) Unscheduled observation time due to certain criteria i.e. change from VFR to IFR.
01009G15KT – ‘G’ means gusty winds
150V210 – ‘V’ means variable, wind direction is variable between 150⁰ and 210⁰.
V010KT – wind direction is variable at 10 knots
CLR – Sky conditions Clear
P6SM or 9999 – Plus or greater than 6 Statute Miles visibility
22/M04 - ‘M’ in the temperature and dewpoint means minus 04⁰C.
FEW – Few clouds
SCT – Scattered clouds
SLP – Sea Level Pressure
AO1 – Automated station without a precipitation sensor.
$ - Dollar sign at the end of a METAR, indicates the station needs maintenance.
–SHRA – (-) means light, showers and rain.
PK WND 28045/1955 - Peak Wind at 280° at 45 knots began at 1955Z.
Broken and Overcast cloud cover are classified as ceilings
When the temperature and dewpoint are when in 3 degrees of each other, it can usually mean either rain, mist, fog or low clouds.
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