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METAR (and TAF) weather decode

A more detailed explanation can be found here.

[Used in the order: Qualifier + Descriptor + Phenomenon ... thus for heavy thunderstorm with rain=+TSRA; light freezing drizzle=-FZDZ]

Weather type:

Precipitation

DZ

RA

SN

SG

IC

PL

GR

GS

UP

 

 

 

 

 

(some* use PE)

 

 

(used by auto-METAR)

drizzle

rain

snow

snow grains

ice crystals (or diamond dust)

ice pellets

hail

small hail/snow pellets

unknown

* although PE was the original two-letter abbreviation recommended for the METAR/TAF weather code, since the change whereby two (or more) weather groups can be used came into force, some users objected to the possible combination of rain (RA) and pellets (PE).

Reduction of visibility

BR

FG

FU

VA

SA

HZ

PY

DU

 

mist

fog

smoke

volcanic ash

sand

haze

spray

widespread dust

Other events

SQ

SS

DS

PO

FC

FC also

 

 

 

 

 


squall

sandstorm

duststorm

well developed dust/sand whirls

funnel cloud

tornado/waterspout

Qualifiers:

Intensity

(-)
(no indicator)
(+)
  light
moderate
heavy

NB: all phenomena are considered to be 'at the station' unless prefixed by VC (= vicinity); thus VCFG is fog in the area, but not affecting the airfield. Vicinity is defined as within 8 km of the airfield.

Descriptors:

MI

BC

PR

TS

BL

SH

DR

FZ

 

shallow

patches

partial

thunderstorm

blowing

showers

drifting

freezing

 

 

 

(see note below)

 

 

 

 

(i.e. supercooled and depositing rime/clear ice - but see note below)

NB: When used with FG, the qualifier 'PR' is used for fog banks, i.e. an extensive area of fog impinges upon an airfield, reducing visibility over part of same to less than 1 km; 'BC' [ patches ] would be used when a discrete, small-scale area of fog drifts/forms over the airfield, again reducing visibility below 1 km but not in all directions. In practice, it is not easy to tell the two apart!.

NB: When use with FG, the qualifier 'FZ' is now used to mean BOTH fog depositing rime AND fog occurring with an air-temperature below zero deg.C; this latter may or may not be depositing rime ice.