What are weather reports?

There are several different types of weather reports used worldwide in aviation:

  1. METAR: It stands for METeorological Aerodrome Report. It is basically a regular report of weather conditions at a given airport and which gets regularly updated (every 30-60 minutes depending on the airport). Have a look at the folllowing example:

LFRB 011300Z 02006KTG16 360V040 4300 FEW023 SCT033 BKN043 24/19 Q1011 TEMPO 1200 TSRA BKN014CB

This is a METAR for Brest airport, in France. Wanna learn how to interpret it? Let's divide it into different parts!

ICAO Date/Time Wind Visibility Weather Sky/Clouds Temperature & Dewpoint Atmospheric Pressure Trend/Remarks
LFRB 011200Z 02006KTG16 360V040 4300 - FEW023 SCT033 BKN043 24/19 Q1011

TEMPO 1200 TSRA BKN014CB

  • ICAO: States the airport for which this report is. In this case, Brest in France.
  • Date/Time: The first two numbers indicate the day and the other four, the Zulu time at which the report was generated. This one was made on day 01 at 1200Z. Note that nor the month or the year are stated.
  • Wind: First 3 numbers indicate the main direction from which the wind is blowing, in degrees. The next two show the average speed at which it is blowing, followed by 'KT' (Knots). If there is gusts of wind, a 'G' is appended, followed by the speed of the gusts. Here we can see that there is gusts of 16 knots. If the wind changes direction regularly, the range of directions from which it may blow are stated. Here, the wind direction is varying from 360º to 040º.
  • Visibility: Average distance visible, in meters. If it is 9999, it means that it is more than 10km.
  • Weather: If there is any weather phenomena going on, such as storms, rain or snow, it will be stated here. In this case, there is nothing going on at the moment.
  • Sky/Clouds: Indicates the cloud cover. It states the type of clouds there is and the height at which they are as if it were a FL. For example, the first part states that there are Few Clouds at 2300ft.
  • Temperature/Dewpoint: Self-explanatory
  • Pressure: Shows the atmospheric pressure at the time of the report. It can be in Millibars if it is preceded by a 'Q' or in Inches if it is preceded by an 'A'.
  • Trend: It tells if there are any changes expected to arise. Here, it says that it is expected for the following to arise TEMPOrarily: Visibility 1200m, Thunderstorms and Rain, Broken Clouds at 1400ft above ground level of type Cumulonimbous. If instead of TEMPO 1200 TSRA BKN014CB it said NOSIG, it would mean that NO SIGnificant changes were to be expected. If it said RMK, it would mean that any info following it would just be remarks, like for example if the site has or hasn't got a precipitation sensor.

  1. TAFOR: Stands for Terminal Aerodrome FORecast. Its syntax is pretty much like a METAR, but instead of showing current data, it gives information about the weather forecast.

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A VATSIM Europe Division service.
Content updated:  5. July 2018.