This weather is killing me.

It’s not really the weather, it’s interpreting the weather conditions as reported by the weather services. Shorthand is great, but I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around it. Why am I bothering with it? It’s a required skill for getting a pilot’s certificate.

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Really, just look at this. KEHC stands for the station. 022135Z is the date and time: second day of the month, 21:35 hours zulu (Greenwich time). AUTO means an automatically generated report. 22027KT means the wind is coming from 220° at 27 knots. 1 1/2sm is the visibility - 1.5 statute miles. BR means that the current weather is “mist”. This comes from a big table of different weather conditions (which we’re supposed to memorize).

Illustration for article titled This weather is killing me.
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SCT is short for scattered clouds. It’s in there three times: 1,400' (014); 2,000' (020); and 2,500' (025), to indicate three levels of clouds at different altitudes. The 25/24 is the temperature and the dew point in celcius. Temps this close together means it’s easy to form clouds. A2987 is the barometric pressure - 29.87" of mercury. RMK is remark, and there’s a long list of those too:

Volcanic Eruptions are in plain english

TORNADO, FUNNEL CLOUD, or WATERSPOUT

Peak Wind (PK_WND)

Wind Shift (WSHFT_time)

BINOVC (Breaks in Overcast)

BINOVC denotes a few, small clear patches in the overcast sky

Tower or Surface Visibility (TWR_VIS SFC_VIS)

CIG (Ceiling=Lowest BKN/OVC layer or height of VV)

V (Variable)

i.e. BKN V SCT, VIS 2V3 [2 variable 3 miles], CIG 025V030 [2500 ft-3000ft])

...

That was partial list of the “important and common” possible remarks. It’s not even close to all of them!

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Thankfully, someone at the College of DuPage built a translator. You paste the METAR, it spits it back at you in plain English. I spent part of my afternoon just grabbing METARs from around the country, translating them myself, then pasting them into the translator to see how I did.

It looks like I’m going to need a lot more practice.

Illustration for article titled This weather is killing me.

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