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Weather Reports and Forecasts
Practice Exam

TAFs & METARs

We’ve outlined the format of METARs & TAFs below, but by far the best way to get used to them is to look at the ones for your local airport everyday and decypher them. You will quickly get the hang of it!

METAR

Meteorological Aerodrome Reports (METARs) give the conditions at an airport at a specific time. These are factual reports of actual weather conditions at a given moment. They are typically issued every 30 minutes, however some smaller airport will only issue one METAR per hour.

METARs are given in coded format and the more you practice reading them, the better you will get! Below are some example METARs:

EGSH 201450Z 04017KT 010V070 9999 FEW020 SCT025 08/03 Q1031=

This decodes to:

EGSH = Norwich Airport
201450Z = 20th day of the month at 1450 UTC
04017KT = Wind from 040°T at an average of 17 knots
010V070 = Wind is varying between 010°T and 070°T
9999 = Visibility greater than 10km
FEW020 = 1 – 2 oktas of cloud cover at 2,000ft
SCT025 = 3 – 4 oktas of cloud cover at 2,500ft
08/03= Temperature 08°C, Dew Point 03°C
Q1031 = QNH is 1031 hPa

EGCC 071020Z AUTO 05012KT CAVOK 02/M02 Q1011 NOSIG=

This decodes to:

EGCC = Manchester Airport
201450Z = 7th day of the month at 1020 UTC
AUTO = An automated report with no human intervention
05012KT = Wind from 050°T at an average of 12 knots
CAVOK = An abbreviation for Ceiling and Visibility OK. Specifically, it means visibility is 10km or greater, there is no cloud below 5,000ft and there are no towering cumulus or cumulonimbus clouds at any height.
02/M02= Temperature +02°C, Dew Point -02°C
Q1031 = QNH is 1011 hPa
NOSIG = No significant change expected in the next 2 hours

TAF

A Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) is a forecast of the weather expected at a given airport within the stated validity period. They are issued throughout the day and are amended where needed. TAFs are also given in a coded format. Below are some example TAFs:

TAF EGSH 201358Z 2015/2024 05012KT 9999 SCT020 PROB30 TEMPO 2015/2018 06015G25KT 8000 -SHRA=

This decodes to:

EGSH = Norwich Airport
201358Z = TAF issued on the 20th of the month at 1358 UTC
2015/2024 = TAF valid from the 20th at 1500 UTC until the 20th at 2400 UTC
05012KT = Wind from 050°T at an average of 12 knots
9999 = Visibility greater than 10km
SCT020 = 3 – 4 oktas of cloud cover at 2,000ft
PROB30 = A 30% chance of the following conditions to occur
TEMPO = Temporary change that will not last for more than 1 hour at a time, nor take up more than half of the total specified period
2015/2018 = The TEMPO is valid from the 20th of the month at 1500 UTC until the 20th of the month at 1800 UTC
06015G25KT = Wind 060°T at an average of 15 knots, with gusts up to 25 knots
8000 -SHRA = Visibility 8000m in light showers of rain

AMD EGCC 070634Z 0706/0812 06012KT 9999 SCT030 PROB40 TEMPO 0706/0718 08015G25KT 4000 -RASN BKN008 PROB30 TEMPO 0718/0724 08015G25KT 5000 -SHSN BKN010=

This decodes to:

AMD = This is an unscheduled amendment to the previously issued TAF
EGCC = Manchester Airport
070634Z = TAF issued on the 07th of the month at 0634 UTC
0706/0812 = TAF valid from the 07th at 0600 UTC until the 08th at 1200 UTC
06012KT = Wind from 060°T at an average of 12 knots
9999 = Visibility greater than 10km
SCT030 = 3 – 4 oktas of cloud cover at 3,000ft
PROB40 = A 40% chance of the following conditions to occur
TEMPO = Temporary change that will not last for more than 1 hour at a time, nor take up more than half of the total specified period
0706/0718 = The TEMPO is valid from the 7th of the month at 0600 UTC until the 7th of the month at 1800 UTC
08015G25KT = Wind 080°T at an average of 15 knots, with gusts up to 25 knots
4000 -RASN = Visibility 4000m in light showers of rain and snow
BKN008 = 5 – 7 oktas of cloud cover at 800ft
PROB30 = A 30% chance of the following conditions to occur
TEMPO = Temporary change that will not last for more than 1 hour at a time, nor take up more than half of the total specified period
0718/0724 = The TEMPO is valid from the 7th of the month at 1800 UTC until the 7th of the month at 2400 UTC
08015G25KT = Wind 080°T at an average of 15 knots, with gusts up to 25 knots
5000 -SHSN = Visibility 4000m in light showers of snow
BKN010 = 5 – 7 oktas of cloud cover at 1,000ft

If you’d prefer to learn about TAFs & METARs in video format, we recommend Captain Joe’s videos on YouTube. Click here to go to his first video on METARs (yes, there’s enough to talk about here to make multiple videos!)

Although the MetOffice does a good job of forecasting, it is impossible for them to be right 100% of the time. The accuracy of TAFs is somewhere around 85% – meaning that 15% of the time the TAF will in fact be incorrect! Pilots should always take more than one source of weather information into account. Use the GAFORs, F214, F215, METARs and TAFs together to get an overall picture of the weather to expect on your flight.