How to decode METAR?

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In METAR reports, we can find many notations. In fact, most of them can be guessed what they mean. This is because those are abbreviations of the terms to describe various weather conditions.

Here are some of the common notations used in METAR.

Notation Description
- light/moderate
+ heavy
VC in the vicinity
NOSIG no significant weather
BC patches
SH showers
TS thunderstorms
DZ drizzle
RA rain
RERA recent rain
BR mist
FG fog
HZ haze
+TSRA thunderstorms with heavy rain
+SHRA heavy showers or rain

For example,

METAR VHHH 261200Z 08012KT 040V100 9000 FEW009 CB012 SCT014 BKN050
22/19 Q1018 NOSIG

is decoded as,

METAR type of report - METAR
VHHH station identity code for Hong Kong International Airport
261200Z day 26 hour 12 (in Greenwish Mean Time, HKT=GMT + 8) minute 0
08012KT wind direction - 080 degrees; wind speed - 12 knots (1 knot is about 0.5 m/s or 1.8 km/h)
040V100 wind may vary from 040 degrees to 100 degrees
9000 visibility - 9 km (if 9999 means over 10 km)
FEW009 few cloud at 900 feet
CB012 cumulonimbus cloud at 1200 feet
SCT014 scattered cloud at 1400 feet
BKN050 broken cloud at 5000 feet
22/19 temperature - 22 degree celsius; dew point - 19 degree celsius
Q1018 sea-level pressure - 1018 hpa
NOSIG no significant weather

Sometimes, you can see like this,

METAR VHHH 261200Z 08012KT 040V100 9000 FEW009 CB012 SCT014 BKN050
22/19 Q1018 TEMPO 1406 7000 +TSRA

The last few words mean,

temporary situation between hour 14 and hour 6 next day (in GMT): visibility is 7 km in thunderstorms with heavy rain


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