How to read METAR and TAF informations ?

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Chevalier Bayard
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How to read METAR and TAF informations ?

Postby Chevalier Bayard » Tue 03 Jul, 2007 23:50

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Tired of the too easy shining sun, you've tried some other situations with your plane, from the little rain to the strongest storm. Now let's get the simulation to another level thanks to the possibility in Flight Simulator (2k4 and X) to connect to Weather Forecast in order to fly in the real meteorological conditions (refreshed every 15 minutes).

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But if you see at once from your departure point the general tendency of the weather you'll have to deal with in your departure point, you anyway need some more precise information about the wind, the expected evolution and, if you schedule to do a real journey instead of a simple round around the airport, the weather you should expect during your flight till your arrival airport.

That is now that TAF (Terminal Air Forecast) and METAR (METeorogical Airfield Report) make their entrance !

The METAR is an observation message from the airport while the TAF is a forecast message.

You can find them easily on the Internet, for example on the following URL: http://www.euro.wx.propilots.net

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The french website Eurocockpit also offers a very complete meteo bulletin (cf. just below).

Now comes finally the issue of our topic. How to read them ? :idea:

Code: Select all

LFPG   PARIS DE GAULLE  (Elev. 392 ft - 13mb)   CDG
Today 03/07/07 Sunrise 03:50 Sunset 19:57 UTC
UTC now 21:38 UTC offset time 22:38 (UTC 1 Hrs)
METAR
METAR LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG=
METAR LFPG 032030Z 29010KT 9999 FEW030CB SCT033 14/11 Q1004 NOSIG=
METAR LFPG 032000Z 32007KT 9999 -SHRA FEW030CB SCT033 16/12 Q1004 NOSIG=
TAF
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30 TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z=
TAF LFPG 031700Z 040024 27010KT 9999 FEW025 SCT040 BECMG 0608 27015G30KT BKN030 TEMPO 0508 6000 NSW BECMG 1012 SCT015 SCT025 TEMPO 1216 6000 -TSRA SCT020CB BECMG 1820 27012KT BECMG 2224 OVC030=


Whatever their source is, the structures for METAR and TAF are always the same.

METAR for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 21:00
LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG


TAF for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 20:00
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30
     TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z


The four first letters of the message are the airport ICAO code. Here LFPG for Paris De-Gaulle airport.

METAR for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 21:00
LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG


TAF for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 20:00
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30
     TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z


The following string gives the day and the hour without the month nor the year. These data being extremely perishable, the day is far enough to ensure ourselves about the information validity.

The example METAR message has been transmitted the 3rd (03) at 9:00PM (2100).

The Z specifies that we are taking about Universal Time, which means GMT.

TAF for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 20:00
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30
     TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z


In the TAF message the following string designates the period concerns by the forecasts, which means here from 9PM to 6AM on the 3rd.

METAR for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 21:00
LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG


TAF for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 20:00
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30
     TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z


Then come the wind (on the airfield ground) information; usually 5 figures followed by "KT" for "knots".

The three of these five figures give the wind orientation. The last two give the force of the wind in knots.

In the METAR the wind comes from 290° (West North-West) with a force of 09 knots.

Shall its force be under 03 knots, "VBR" would be found in the message for the direction. For such a small force it's impossible to give a clear direction to the wind.

Shall the wind's direction change constantly, we would find a string similar to this one 240V29009KT which would meant the wind is 9 knots strong and comes from a moving position between 240 and 290°.

Shall it be the wind's force which would be moving, we would find a string like this one 29009G25KT: the wind comes from 290° with a mooving force between 09 and 25 knots.


Now you have already enough information to choose the best track for leaving the ground, generally the one facing the wind.

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[TO BE CONTINUED...]
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Chevalier Bayard
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Postby Chevalier Bayard » Sun 22 Jul, 2007 21:10

Let's keep our former bulletin:

Code: Select all

LFPG   PARIS DE GAULLE  (Elev. 392 ft - 13mb)   CDG
Today 03/07/07 Sunrise 03:50 Sunset 19:57 UTC
UTC now 21:38 UTC offset time 22:38 (UTC 1 Hrs)
METAR
METAR LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG=
METAR LFPG 032030Z 29010KT 9999 FEW030CB SCT033 14/11 Q1004 NOSIG=
METAR LFPG 032000Z 32007KT 9999 -SHRA FEW030CB SCT033 16/12 Q1004 NOSIG=
TAF
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30 TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z=
TAF LFPG 031700Z 040024 27010KT 9999 FEW025 SCT040 BECMG 0608 27015G30KT BKN030 TEMPO 0508 6000 NSW BECMG 1012 SCT015 SCT025 TEMPO 1216 6000 -TSRA SCT020CB BECMG 1820 27012KT BECMG 2224 OVC030=


and let's continue our description with the following of our two METAR & TAF lines:

METAR for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 21:00
LFPG 032100Z 29009KT 9999 FEW040 SCT060 14/11 Q1005 NOSIG


TAF for LFPG wrote:2007/07/03 20:00
TAF LFPG 032000Z 032106 27010KT 9999 SCT040 PROB30
     TEMPO 2123 27015G30KT -TSRA BKN030CB TX16/21Z TN12/05Z


The figures following are corresponding to the visibility from the ground.

Here "9999"  corresponds to a visibility superior to 10 km. Otherwise the number given correspond to a measure in meters, rounded to the closest hundred.

If the visibility is below 1000 and 4000 meters, the number is followed by BR for "BluR".

If the visibility is below 1000m, the number is followed by FG for "FoG".

For the lowest visibilities, below 1500m, it happens that the visibility distance changes regarding the direction you are looking at.

For this reason you can find in the METAR the RVR (for "Runaway Visual Range") for each runaway track.

If you have between 500m and 1300m for the track#03, you find in the METAR for track#3: R03/0500V1300N.

Actually, if the RVR is indicated, you'll have a more complete information looking like that: R03/0500V1300N W002 which th W indicating that the following number corresponds to the Vertical Visibility, here 200 feet.

[TO BE CONTINUED (sooner this time I promise ;))]
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