Lecture 3 - METAR surface observation code

METAR code is a compact way of displaying weather measurements. A sample metar code may look like this:

KOKC 311156Z 12015G22KT 10SM SCT350 OVC420 08/M02 A2999 RMK A02 SLP136 T00781018 P0012=

Lets break this down:
The station identifier (Oklahoma City, OK) (See below)
Date and time (31st day of the month, 1156Z)
............ Z is time over in Greenwich, England in 24hr time. Subtract 5 hrs for CDT, 6 for CST.
12015G22KT Wind direction and speed with gusts (120° at 15 knots, gusting to 22 knots) (Gust not always present)
10SM Visibility (10 Statue Miles) (10SM means 10 statue miles or greater)
SCT350 OVC420 Cloud cover type and height in hundreds of feet (Scattered clouds at 35000ft above ground leve and Overcast at 42000ft)
............ SCT - Scattered, FEW - Few, BKN - Broken, OVC - Overcast, CLR - Clear (no height given)
08/M02 Temp and Dew point (temp = 8°C, dew point = -2°C) (M stands for minus)
A2999 Altimeter settings (29.99 in Hg)
RMK Remark statements from this point on.
A02 Automated station with precipitation discriminator
SLP136 Sea Level Pressure to the tenth of a millibar (1013.6mb) (The first 9 or 10 is dropped. You must decided which has dropped, sea level pressure ranges from 970mb to 1030mb)
T00781018 Actual Temperature and Dew Point: First digit (0=plus, 1=minus), Next 3 digits are the temperature: 0078 = 7.8°C, 1018 = -1.8°C
P0012 Precipitation in the past hour (measured to the hundreth of an inch) (00.12")
= The equals sign marks the end of the METAR code.

Here are some common station names: (The K is omitted off of the front because it is common to all US stations)
ADM - Ardmore, OK LAW - Lawton, OK
AMA - Amarillo, TX LIT - Little Rock, AR
FTW - Fort Worth, TX OKC - Oklahoma City, OK
GAG - Gage, OK SPS - Wichita Falls, TX
ICT - Wichita, KS TUL - Tulsa, OK

There is much more to learn about METAR codes, but this is the basics.

Written by: Brad Illston