Weather reports

The striving for more reality in PC flying and the possibility to fly with real weather makes it necessary to deal with the topic of weather and weather reports. Here we differentiate between METAR and TAF or FC. METAR is a pure regional status report for the environment of an airport and is usually also published by the airport. METAR weather reports are mainly used in flight simulation and are abbreviated "SA". In contrast to METAR, TAF or FC (Forecast) is a weather forecast issued by the national weather service. These contain not only information about the prevailing weather situation, but also forecasts and possibly warnings about bad weather areas, storms, heavy thunderstorms, etc. These warnings for air traffic are called SIGMET. Aeronautical weather messages, whether METAR (SA) or TAF (FC) or SIGMET have basically the same structure. Especially this, at first sight indecipherable, stringing together of numbers and letters usually causes great confusion and can not be deciphered by many PC pilots.

First the simplified version:

And this is what a real METAR message looks like:

METAR EDDM 052030Z AUTO 23020G35KT 190V280 1300SW7000N R26L/1500U +SN FEW006 SCT012 03/M01 Q1008 R25L/591026 NOSIG

The message is divided into main groups, separated by a clear space.
The meaning is as follows: (...move the mouse over the groups.)

Type of report (METAR or TAF), and ICAO Name of reporting point / airport

Date, time and identification for time zone when the weather report is issued and the type of report. In case of TAF additionally their validity

Wind (direction + speed) and possibly additional wind information

Visibility on the ground (without identification always in meters), with different visibility levels Visibility with indication of direction. If necessary with runway visibility

Weather (intensity, description and type)

Clouds (cloud coverage with cloud base and prominent cloud type)

Temperature and dew point (temperature with dew point supplement)

Air pressure (QNH) in millibar (USA, Canada and Mexico in inches)

If necessary, additional information and condition of the piste (surface, dirt / snow / water, friction coefficients)

Development forecast for the next two hours

With this information you should be able to decode this METAR.
Who still needs a little help can use the solution:


METAR, which is a weather report from the airport (Meteorological Aviation Routine Weather Report)
Airport code
EDDM = ICAO Code for the airport that sent this message; here Munich.
Observation period
052030Z = One reads the division : 05. 2030 Zulu
05, so fifth day of the current month
Time 2030, so the message appeared at 20:30 o'clock
Z is the identifier for UTC
further abbreviation
AUTO means automatically created METAR
23020G35KT = Wind direction 230° Wind speed 20 knots (KMH for km/h or MPS for m/s are possible)
G35 = gusts till 35 kt
190V280 = Data of two extreme wind directions, which varied by ≥60° and <180°. V is the code letter for variation.
here: Wind fluctuates between 190 and 280 degrees
1300SW7000N = Ground view in meters
Minimum horizontal visibility on the ground with directional indication (by means of 8-part cardinal point scale)
here: Towards southwest worst visibility with 1300 m and towards north 7000 m that was observed.
Runway visual range
R26L/1500U = Runway 26 left with 1500 meters visibility and rising
R Code letter for runway visual range (RVR)
26L Runway 26 left (R = right)
1500 RVR in m (M0050 : RVR below 50 m | P2000 : RVR above 2000 m)
U Change tendency of the last 10 minutes U = upward | D = downward | N = no distinct tendency
+SN = intensity and weather phenomenon. Here: + (heavy) SN (snow)
FEW006 SCT012 = cloud coverage (FEW (few) = 1/8-2/8 | SCT (scattered) = 3/8-4/8 | BKN (broken) = 5/8-7/8 | OVC (overcast) = 8/8) and information in hft about reason
here: few clouds at 600 ft and scattered clouds at 1200 ft.
Temperatur / Taupunkt
03/M01 = 3° Air temperature in Celsius, -1°C Dew point. If there is an M before the numbers, these are minus values.
Air pressure
Q1008 = Code for QNH (air pressure value) in hPa, here 1008 hPa.
Set this value when the altitude falls below the transition height (5000 feet). A2992 would be identifier for QNH in inches, so 29.92 inches.
Runway condition
R25L = Runway designation (here: runway 25 left)
5 = Type of covering (here: wet snow)
9 = Area extension (here: 51 to 100%)
10 = height of the deposit (here: 1cm)
26 = coefficient of friction (R) or braking effect (B) (here: R of 0,26 is coded as 26)
Trend report
Development forecast for the next 2 hours
Here: NOSIG = no significant change
Also possible would be: TEMPO = temporary or BECMG = becoming

For more detailed information and further decoding you will find the following PDF from the German Weather Service:
DWD METAR/TAF (in german)
or in the following PDF from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO):
WMO METAR/TAF (in english)

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