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CHAPTER 4 - PRESENT WEATHER

ADDITIONAL MATERIAL TO S TUDY: Chapter 9, paragraphs 9.2.1c, d, e, & f, present weather criteria for SPECI

4.1 Introduction
This chapter provides information concerning the identifying, recording, reporting, and coding of present weather
conditions.
4.2 Present Weather
Present weather includes precipitation, obscurations (obstructions to visibility), well-developed dust/sand whirls,
squalls, tornadic activity, thunderstorms, sandstorms, and duststorms. The table below gives the abbreviations
used to report atmospheric phenomena.
Table 4-1. Notations for Reporting Present Weather
QUALIFIER
INTENSITY OR
PROXIMITY
1
Light

WEATHER PHENOMENA

DESCRIPTOR

PRECIPITATION

OBSCURATION

OTHER

MI Shallow

DZ Drizzle

BR Mist
(>5/8SM)

Moderate

PO WellDeveloped
Dust/Sand
Whirls

PR Partial

RA Rain

BC Patches

S N Snow

DR Low Drifting

S G Snow Grains

FU Smoke

S Q Squalls

BL Blowing

IC Ice Crystals

VA Volcanic Ash

FC Funnel
Cloud

(no symbol used)

FG Fog
(<5/8SM)

(Dust Devils)

+ Heavy
VC In the
Vicinity

(with any visibility)

S H Shower(s)

PL Ice Pellets

TS Thunderstorm

GR Hail

DU Widespread
Dust

+FC Tornado
Waterspout

(> 1/4 inch)

FZ Freezing

S A Sand

S S Sandstorm

GS Small Hail
and/or Snow
Pellets

HZ Haze

DS Duststorm

(<1/4 inch)

PY Spray

The weather groups shall be constructed by considering columns 1 to 5 in the table above in sequence, i.e., intensity, followed
by description, followed by weather phenomena, e.g., heavy rain shower(s) is coded as +SHRA.

Present weather is reported when it is occurring at or in the vicinity of the station at the time of observation.
! Occurring at the station when within 5 statute miles of the point of observation.
! In the vicinity of the station when between 5 and 10 statute miles of the point of observation.
Any type of precipitation not occurring at the point of observation, but within 10 statute miles is
reported as showers in the vicinity (VCSH).
! Distant from the station (DSNT) when beyond 10 statute miles of the point of observation.

Ch. 4 Pg. 1

4.2.1 Precipitation
Precipitation is any form of water particles, whether in liquid or solid state, that fall from the atmosphere and
reach the ground. Precipitation that reaches the ground can be an obscuration or obstruction to horizontal
visibility. The various types are:
a. Drizzle (DZ). Drizzle is a fairly uniform type of precipitation that is composed of fine drops with diameters
of less than 0.02 inch (0.5 mm) that are very close together. Drizzle appears to float while following air
currents. Unlike fog droplets, drizzle does fall to the ground.
b. Rain (RA). Rain comes in two forms. The first is in the form of drops larger than 0.02 inch (0.5 mm). The
second can have smaller drops, but unlike drizzle, they are widely separated. It does not fall to the ground
like drizzle.
c. Snow (SN). This type of precipitation contains crystals, most of which are branched in the form of sixpointed stars.
d. Snow Grains (SG). This precipitation contains very small, white, and opaque grains of ice similar in
structure to snow crystals. It is the solid equivalent of drizzle. When the grains hit the ground, they do not
bounce or shatter. They usually fall in small quantities, mostly from stratus, and never as showers.
e. Ice Crystals (Diamond Dust) (IC). Ice crystals are often so tiny that they seem to be suspended in the air.
They may fall from a cloud or from clear air. Ice crystals are visible mainly when they glitter in the sunshine
or other bright light. They are rarely more than the lightest precipitation, which occurs only at very low
temperatures in stable air masses and are in the form of needles, columns, or plates.
f. Ice Pellets (PL). Ice pellets is a form of precipitation containing transparent or translucent pellets of ice
which are round or irregular in shape, rarely conical, and have a diameter of 0.2 inch (5 mm) or less. There
are two types. The first is hard grains of ice consisting of frozen raindrops or largely melted and refrozen
snowflakes. The second type consists of pellets of snow encased in a thin layer of ice which have formed
from the freezing of droplets intercepted by pellets or of water resulting from the partial melting of pellets.
The pellets usually rebound when striking hard ground and make a sound on impact.
g. Hail (GR). Hail is small balls or other pieces of ice falling separately or frozen together in irregular lumps.
h. Small Hail and/or Snow Pellets (GS). This type of precipitation consists of white, opaque grains of ice
which are round or sometimes conical. Their diameters range from 0.08 to 0.2 inch (2 to 5 mm). They are
brittle and easily crushed. When they fall on hard ground they bounce and often break up.
4.2.2 Obscurations
Obscurations or obstructions to visibility can be any phenomenon in the atmosphere that reduce horizontal
visibility. The various kinds are: (not including precipitation)
a. Mist (BR). A visible aggregate of minute water particles suspended in the atmosphere that reduces visibility
to less than 7 statute miles but greater than or equal to 5/8 statute miles.
b. Fog (FG). A visible aggregate of minute water particles (droplets) which are based at the earth's surface
and reduce the horizontal visibility to less than 5/8 statute miles. Fog does not fall to the ground like drizzle.
Fog with a qualifier (see paragraph 4.4.2) can be reported if the visibility is 5/8 mile or more.
c. Smoke (FU). Small particles produced by combustion that are suspended in the air. This phenomenon
may be present either near the Earths surface or in the free atmosphere. When viewed through smoke, the
disk of the sun at sunrise and sunset appears very red. The disk may have an orange tinge when the sun is
above the horizon. A transition to haze may occur when smoke particles have traveled great distances (25
Ch. 4 Pg. 2

miles or more) and, when the larger particles have settled out, the remaining particles have become widely
scattered through the atmosphere.
d. Volcanic Ash (VA). Fine particles of rock powder that have erupted from a volcano and remain
suspended in the atmosphere for long periods of time producing red sunsets and climatic modifications
thousands of miles away. Volcanic Ash is always reported when it is present regardless of the visibility.
e. Widespread Dust (DU). Fine particles of earth or other matter raised or suspended in the air by the wind
that may have occurred at or away from the station.
f. Sand (SA). Particles of sand raised to a sufficient height that reduces visibility.
g. Haze (HZ). A suspension in the air of extremely small, dry particles invisible to the naked eye but
sufficiently numerous to give it an opalescent appearance. This phenomenon resembles a uniform veil over
the landscape that subdues all colors. Dark objects viewed through this veil tend to have a bluish tinge
while bright objects, such as the sun or distant lights, tend to have a dirty yellow or reddish hue.
h. Spray (PY). An ensemble of water droplets torn by the wind from the surface of a large body of water,
generally from the crest of waves, and carried a short distance into the air.
4.2.3 Other Weather Phenomena
a. Well-developed Dust/Sand Whirl (PO). An ensemble of particles of dust or sand, sometimes accompanied
by small pieces of litter, that is raised from the ground and takes the form of a whirling column with varying
height, small diameter, and an approximate vertical axis.
b. Squall (SQ). The sudden onset of strong winds with speeds increasing by at least 16 knots and sustained at
22 or more knots for at least one minute.
c. Funnel Cloud (FC). A violent, rotating column of air which does not touch the ground. It is one aspect of
tornadic activity.
d. Tornado (+FC). A funnel cloud that touches the ground. It is one aspect of tornadic activity.
e. Waterspout (+FC). A funnel cloud that forms over a body of water and touches the water's surface. It is
one aspect of tornadic activity.
f. Sandstorm (SS). Particles of sand carried aloft by strong winds. For the most part, the particles are found
at the lowest ten feet. Rarely do they rise to more than 50 feet above the ground.
g. Duststorm (DS). A severe weather condition characterized by strong winds and dust-filled air over a large
area.
4.3 Present Weather Reporting Order
When more than one type of present weather is reported at the same time, they are reported in the following
order:
! Tornadic activity, i.e., Tornado (+FC), Waterspout (+FC), or Funnel Cloud (FC).
! Thunderstorm(s) (TS) with or without associated precipitation.
! Present weather in order of decreasing dominance, i.e., the most dominant type is reported first.
Precipitation will always be reported before obscurations.
! Left to Right in Table (Column 1-5)

Ch. 4 Pg. 3

Reporting order of precipitation, obscurations, and other: (1) Precipitation in the order of decreasing dominance
(maximum of 3 types within this group) with or without qualifiers; (2) Obscuration(s) in the order of decreasing
dominance if more than one; (3) Other, excluding Funnel Cloud, Tornado, and Waterspout.
No more than three weather groups shall be used to report weather phenomena at or near the station.
4.4 Weather Observing Standards
Weather shall be defined by qualifiers. These qualifiers fall into two categories: intensity or proximity and
descriptors. Qualifiers may be used in various combinations to describe present weather phenomena. More
refined definitions are as follows:
a. Intensity. Intensity qualifiers are the terms light, moderate and heavy. These terms vary in their meaning
depending on the type of precipitation they are describing. The coding of intensity for weather phenomena
is placed in front of the associated weather and is used only once. Intensity shall be coded with
precipitation types, except ice crystals and hail, including those associated with a thunderstorm (TS) and
those of a showery nature (SH). No intensity is ascribed with the precipitation hail (GR), small hail (GS),
or ice crystals (IC) and the obscuration of blowing dust (BLDU), blowing sand (BLSA), and blowing
snow (BLSN). Only moderate or heavy intensity is ascribed to sandstorm (SS) and duststorm (DS). The
following tables establish criteria for these qualifiers:
Intensity

Criteria

Light

Up to 0.10 inch per hour; maximum 0.01 inch in 6 minutes.

Moderate

0.11 inch to 0.30 inch per hour; more than 0.01 inch to 0.03 inch in 6 minutes.

Heavy

More than 0.30 inch per hour; more than 0.03 inch in 6 minutes.

Table 4-2. Intensity of Rain or Ice Pellets Based on Rate-of-Fall

Intensity

Criteria

Light

From scattered drops that, regardless of duration, do not completely wet an exposed
surface up to a condition where individual drops are easily seen.

Moderate

Individual drops are not clearly identifiable; spray is observable just above pavements
and other hard surfaces.

Heavy

Rain seemingly falls in sheets; individual drops are not identifiable; heavy spray to
height of several inches is observed over hard surfaces.

Table 4-3. Estimating Intensity of Rain

Intensity
Light

Criteria
Scattered pellets that do not completely cover an exposed surface regardless of
duration. Visibility is not affected.

Moderate

Slow accumulation on ground. Visibility reduced by ice pellets to less than 7


statute miles.

Heavy

Rapid accumulation on ground. Visibility reduced by ice pellets to less than 3


statute miles.

Table 4-4. Estimating Intensity of Ice Pellets

Ch. 4 Pg. 4

Intensity

Criteria

Light

Visibility > 1/2 mile.

Moderate

Visibility > 1/4 mile but <1/2 mile.

Heavy

Visibility <1/4 mile.

Table 4-5. Intensity of Snow or Drizzle Based Occurring Alone Based on Visibility

Intensity of Drizzle or Snow Occurring with Other Obscuring Phenomena Based on Visibility
Light

Any reportable value.

Moderate

Visibility less than 5/8 statute mile.

Heavy

Visibility less than 5/16 statute mile.

Table 4-6.
The only exception to intensity is + used with FC which means Tornado or Waterspout instead of heavy
funnel cloud.
When more than one type of precipitation is coded, the intensity refers to the first precipitation type. The
precipitation is entered in the order of dominance, so any precipitation that follows will be of equal or lesser
intensity.
Example:

RASNDZ

In METAR, the observer considers dominance and enters the type in that order. In the example above, the
observer determined the snow was more dominate than the drizzle, so has coded it before the drizzle.
b. Proximity. The proximity qualifier is vicinity, VC. Weather phenomena not occurring at the point of
observation but between 5 to 10 statute miles from the point of observation shall be reported as in the
vicinity of the station. VC is coded in combination with fog (FG), shower(s) (SH), well-developed
dust/sand whirls (PO), blowing dust (BLDU), blowing sand (BLSA), blowing snow (BLSN), sandstorm
(SS), and duststorm (DS). Intensity qualifiers are not coded with VC. The exception: any type of
precipitation not occurring at the point of observation, but within 10 statute miles, is reported as showers in
the vicinity, i.e., VCSH.

Ch. 4 Pg. 5

Any type of precipitation, of any intensity, (e.g. Drizzle-DZ, Rain-RA, Snow-SN, Snow Grains-SG, Ice PelletsPL, Hail-GR or GS), not occurring at the point of observation, but within 10 statute miles is reported as showers
in the vicinity (VCSH). Simply, if its not falling on your head, report VCSH.

Snow
Rain

10 SM VCSH

10SM VCSH

Obscurations are reported in the vicinity of the station (VC) when they are located between 5 and 10 statute
miles of the point of observation.
Example: VCFG is coded to report any type of fog observed between 5 and 10 statute miles of the station.

FOG

VCFG

Present weather coded in the body of the report as VC may be further described in remarks, i.e., direction from
the station, if known. For example, the two examples of VCSH above could be further described in remarks as:
VCSH N; or the above VCFG could have a remark of: VCFG NE.
Ch. 4 Pg. 6

c. Descriptors. These are qualifiers that further describe weather phenomena and are used with certain types
of precipitation and obscurations. The descriptor qualifiers used are: shallow, partial, patches, low drifting,
blowing, shower(s), thunderstorm, and freezing; they are defined below:
(1) Shallow (MI). The descriptor shallow shall only be used to further describe fog that has little
vertical extent (less than 6 feet).
(2) Partial (PR) and Patches (BC). The descriptors partial and patches shall only be used to further
describe fog that has little vertical extent (normally greater than or equal to 6 feet but less than
20 feet), and reduces horizontal visibility, but to a lesser extent vertically. The stars may often be
seen by night and the sun by day.
(3) Low Drifting (DR). When dust, sand, or snow is raised by the wind to less than 6 feet, low
drifting shall be used to further describe the weather phenomenon.
(4) Blowing (BL). When dust, sand, snow, and/or spray is raised by the wind to a height of
6 feet or more, blowing shall be used to further describe the weather phenomenon.
(5) Shower(s) (SH). Precipitation characterized by the suddenness with which they start and stop, by
the rapid changes of intensity, and usually by rapid changes in the appearance of the sky.
(6) Thunderstorm (TS). A storm produced by a cumulonimbus cloud that is accompanied by lightning
and/or thunder.
(7) Freezing (FZ). When fog is occurring and the temperature is below 0C, freezing shall be used
to further describe the phenomena. It is only applied to fog (FG) and never to mist (BR). When
drizzle and/or rain freezes upon impact and forms a glaze1 on the ground or other exposed
objects, freezing shall be used to further describe the precipitation.
Descriptors precede certain types of precipitation or obscurations. To describe blowing snow, you combine
BL from the descriptor list and SN from the precipitation list. (The Weather Phenomena Matrix contains all
the acceptable combinations that can be used.) Blowing is a description of the precipitation type snow. No
intensity is ever assigned to blowing snow.
Example: 4SM BLSN
When blowing snow is observed with snow falling from clouds, both phenomena are reported, e.g.,
SN BLSN. If there is blowing snow and the observer cannot determine whether or not snow is also falling,
then BLSN shall be reported.
Only one descriptor can be used for each grouping of weather phenomena reported. It is important to note that
thunderstorm (TS) and shower (SH) are descriptors of the precipitation rather than being a part of the weather
phenomena category. Therefore, you will never see TS and SH in the same group. This does not mean that
showers do not occur when thunderstorms are reported, e.g., the report may be TS SHRA. Remember,
thunderstorms can be treated as weather, even though it is a descriptor.
Example: TSRA or TS SHRA
1

"Glaze" is a coating of ice, generally clear and smooth, but with some air pockets. It is formed
on exposed objects at temperatures below or slightly above 0C by the freezing of super-cooled drizzle
or rain drops. Glaze is denser, harder, and more transparent than rime.
Ch. 4 Pg. 7

Remember, a thunderstorm can occur without precipitation, it is the only descriptor that can be treated as present
weather and may be reported without precipitation.
Example: 10SM TS
When light precipitation is occurring along with a thunderstorm, following the rule of intensity before descriptor
puts the before the TS.
REMEMBER, THE INTENSITY REFERS TO PRECIPITATION, NOT THE DESCRIPTOR. THERE IS
NO SUCH THING AS A LIGHT THUNDERSTORM.
Example: 3SM !TSRA
Using the same principle, when a + is placed in front of a TS it is not an indication of a heavy thunderstorm.
Again, the intensity symbol relates to the precipitation not the descriptor. An intensity symbol is never used with
TS if it is reported alone.
There are restrictions on the use of descriptors. The most significant restriction is - Descriptors will never be
used with Mist (BR). A descriptor such as patches (BC) or partial (PR) used to describe fog (FG) will always
imply that the visibility within the phenomena meets the less than 5/8 statute mile criteria.
4.5 Present Weather Reporting Procedures
As noted above, weather phenomena fall into three categories: precipitation, obscurations, and other phenomena.
The categories shall be combined with the qualifiers to identify the present weather that is reported when it is
occurring at, or in the vicinity of, the station and at the time of observation. These are reported in the body of the
report, column 9 on the MF1M-10C form, with a remark made in Remarks, column 14 on the MF1M-10C
form, if further description is needed. With the exception of volcanic ash (which is always reported when
observed) and low-drifting dust, sand, and snow, obscurations are reported only when the prevailing visibility is
less than 7 statute miles or considered operationally significant.
Keep in mind if your prevailing visibility is reduced to less than 7 statute miles there needs to be a present
weather group showing the reason for this condition.
4.5.1 Precipitation
Precipitation of any form shall be reported in the body of the weather report whenever it is observed to be
occurring at the point of observation. Precipitation not occurring at the point of observation, but within 10 statute
miles, shall likewise be reported in the body of the report as showers in the vicinity. Precipitation observed at a
distance from the point of observation (beyond 10 statute miles) shall be reported as distant from the station in
Remarks.
4.5.1.1 Determining and Reporting Precipitation
Determine the type of precipitation occurring at the point of observation in accordance with the definitions in
paragraph 4.2.1. Report precipitation using symbols found in Table 4-1. A SPECI observation is required
whenever freezing precipitation (FZRA, FZDZ) or Ice Pellets (PL) begin, end, or change intensity. A SPECI
observation is also required when Hail (GR) begins or ends.

Ch. 4 Pg. 8

4.5.1.2 Determining the Character of Precipitation


The character of precipitation can be determined by using the follow definitions:
a. Continuous. Intensity changes gradually, if at all.
b. Intermittent. Intensity changes gradually, if at all, but precipitation stops and starts at least once within an
hour.
c. Showery (a descriptor). Precipitation changes intensity, or starts and stops abruptly.
4.5.1.3 Determining and Reporting the Intensity of Precipitation
Use the tables in this chapter to determine the intensity of precipitation. Report the intensity of precipitation using
the symbols in Table 4-1.
No intensity symbol is used with Hail (GR), Small Hail (GS), or Ice Crystals (IC).
4.5.1.3.1 Intensity of Rain
Use Table 4-2 as a guide to estimate the intensity of rain on the rate-of-fall basis if a recording gauge is available.
Estimate that portion of the rate-of-fall associated with the rain if other precipitation is also occurring. If a
recording gauge is not available, use Table 4-3 to estimate the intensity.
4.5.1.3.2 Intensity of Drizzle, Freezing Drizzle, Snow, Snow Grains
If any of these phenomena are occurring alone, use Table 4-5 to determine intensity on the basis of visibility. If
occurring with other precipitation or obscuration, estimate intensity and then use Table 4-6 to determine if your
estimate is valid. You cannot use Table 4-6 to estimate visibility. Use some other means to estimate intensity
before using Table 4-6; e.g., size of flakes, accumulation. The intensity assigned will not be greater than that
determined using visibility criteria if any of the above were occurring alone. With or without other obscuring
phenomena, +SN cannot be reported if the visibility is 5/16 or greater and SN cannot be reported if visibility is
5/8 or greater.
4.5.2 Obscurations
Obscurations should be reported in the body of the report only if prevailing visibility is reduced to less than 7
statute miles (or considered operationally significant), with the exception of fog. If a descriptor qualifier is used to
describe fog (MIFG, PRFG, BCFG), prevailing visibility can be greater than 6 statute miles. A proximity
qualifier (in the vicinity, VCFG) is used to report any type of fog observed between 5 and 10 statute miles from
the point of observation. Fog, without the use of any qualifier, shall be reported when the horizontal visibility is
less than 5/8 statute mile. To report freezing fog, the visibility must be less than 5/8 statute miles and the
temperature less than 0C.
Obscurations when present with precipitation will be in a separate group following the precipitation and entered
in order of dominance, e.g., RA BR HZ.

Ch. 4 Pg. 9

4.5.2.1 Determining and Reporting Obscurations


Shallow Fog2 (MIFG)3, which is reported when visibility at 6 feet above ground level is 5/8SM or more and the
apparent visibility in the fog layer is less than 5/8SM. This fog has a vertical extent of less than 6
feet. MIFG must be occurring within 5 statute miles of the point of observation in order to be reported. If
Shallow Fog is occurring between 5 and 10 statute miles of the point of observation it is reported as VCFG.
Partial Fog (PRFG)3, is fog covering part of the station and which extends to at least 6 feet above the ground,
but not more than 20 feet and apparent visibility in the fog is less than 5/8 statute mile. A substantial part of the
station is covered by fog while the remainder is clear of fog. PRFG must be occurring within 5 statute miles of
the point of observation in order to be reported as PRFG. If Partial Fog is occurring between 5 and 10 statute
miles of the point of observation it is reported as VCFG.
Patches of Fog (BCFG)3, are fog patches that randomly cover the station and which extends to at least 6 feet,
but less than 20 feet above the ground and apparent visibility in the fog is less than 5/8 statute mile. BCFG must
be occurring within 5 statute miles of the point of observation in order to be reported as BCFG. If Patches of
Fog are occurring between 5 and 10 statute miles of the point of observation it is reported as VCFG.
Freezing Fog (FZFG) is reported when the air temperature is 0.1C or colder. This fog may produce a deposit
of ice known as rime ice. It is composed of grains separated by air, sometimes adorned with crystalline
branches. The visibility must also be less than 5/8 statute miles to report FZFG.
Obscurations that stand alone, i.e., do not have a qualifier (descriptor) attached, will only be reported when the
visibility is less than 7 miles or deemed operationally significant by the observer. Volcanic Ash (VA) is always
reported when observed regardless of the visibility.

These are local phenomena usually formed by radiation cooling of the air. It often forms first
in low lying areas.

May be reported with prevailing visibility of 7 statute miles or greater.

Ch. 4 Pg. 10

Patches Fog: Indicates that patches of fog randomly


cover the station.

Partial Fog: Indicates that a substantial part of the


station is covered by fog while the remainder is
clear of fog.

Fog
Fog

Fog
Fog

10SM BCFG

10SM PRFG

Vicinity Fog (VCFG) is coded to report any type of fog observed between 5 and 10 miles of the station. This
fog layer must meet the criteria for fog, i.e., the apparent visibility in the fog layer is less than 5/8 statute miles.
Like VCSH it is reported in column 9 (Present Weather) and a remark is put in column 14 (Remarks) to further
describe its location. For example, an area of fog is observed 8 statute miles northeast of the station, it would be
reported as: VCFG in column 9 (Present Weather) and the remark VCFG NE would be included in column
14 (Remarks). VCFG is never used to report fog that is occurring more than 10 miles from the station, i.e.,
VCFG DSNT ALQDS is never used. The two terms are in contrast with each other. VCFG means fog is
observed between 5 and 10 mile of your station, DSNT means fog is being observed more than 10 miles from
the station. Likewise, VCFG is never used to report fog that is occurring at your station, that is, within 5 statute
miles of the point of observation. An area of fog observed 11 statute miles east through south of the station would
be report as, FG BNK DSNT E-S in column 14, no entry would be made in column 9 (Present Weather) for
this event..
Mist versus Freezing Fog: BR, (Mist) which is wimpy fog, is used to report fog when it reduces visibility from 6
statute miles to 5/8 statute miles. BR is reported as long as the visibility remains above 1/2 statute miles
regardless of how low the temperature goes. At 79.0F (61.7C) if the visibility was reduced by fog to 5/8
statute miles BR (Mist) would be reported as Present Weather. Mist is never coded with any descriptor.
Freezing Fog versus Fog: FZFG is used to report fog when 1) it reduces visibility 1/2 statute miles or less and 2)
when the temperature is -0.1C or lower. FG, (Fog) is used to report fog when it 1) reduces visibility below 5/8
statute miles and 2) when the temperature is 0.0C or higher.
If any type of fog, including mist is observed, the following flow chart can be used as an aid in determining and
reporting the various types of fog.

Ch. 4 Pg. 11

If FOG is Visible
Within
10 Miles?

<NO>

Report in
Remarks, e.g.,
FG BNK DSNT
E-S

< NO>

VCFG1

< NO >

MIFG1

<NO>

Is in a
Continuous
Mass?

< NO >
< YES >

<YES>

Visibility Less
Than 5/8 Mile?

<YES>

^
YES
v

Within
5 Miles?

^
v

YES
6 Feet Deep
or More?

^
v

YES
Fairly Uniform
in All
Directions?

^
v

BCFG1
PRFG1

YES
Visibility Less
Than 7 Miles?

Temperature
Below Freezing?
(0.1C or less)

NO

^
v

NO

^
v

NO

No Report

BR

FG

< YES>

FZFG

^
v

1 - Should be further described in Remarks, e.g., VCFG W-N, MIFG NW-E,


BCFG S AND W, PRFG OVR RWY 18. MIFG, PRFG, and BCFG may be
reported if the prevailing visibility is 7 statute miles or greater.

Blowing Snow (BLSN) is considered an obscuration. It is reported in column 9 (Present Weather). Snow
particles are raised and stirred violently by the wind to moderate or great heights. Visibility is poor (6 miles or
less), and the sky may become obscured when the particles are raised to great heights.
Drifting Snow (DRSN) is snow particles raised by the wind to small heights above the ground (less than 6 feet).
Visibility is not reduced to below 7 miles at eye level, although, obstructions below this level may veiled or hidden
by the particles moving nearly horizontal to the ground. This criteria can also be applied to Drifting Dust
(DRDU) and Drifting Sand (DRSA).
Blowing Dust (BLDU) is dust raised by the wind to moderate heights above the ground and restricting horizontal
visibility to less than 7 miles.
Blowing Sand (BLSA) is sand raised by the wind to moderate heights above the ground, reducing horizontal
visibility to less than 7 statute miles.
Blowing Spray (BLPY) is water droplets torn by the wind from a substantial body of water, generally from the
crests of waves and is raised in such quantities as to reduce the visibility at eye level to 6 miles or less. Spray is
never reported as a stand alone obscuration but always contains the descriptor for blowing (BL) attached.

Ch. 4 Pg. 12

4.5.3 Other Weather Phenomena


Other weather phenomena will be reported in the body of the report when they are occurring at the time of the
observation.
Duststorm (DS) is the same as blowing dust, except visibility is reduced between 5/8 to 5/16 statute miles.
Heavy Duststorm (+DS) is the same as blowing dust, except visibility is reduced to less than 5/16 statute miles.
Sandstorm (SS) is the same as blowing sand, except horizontal visibility is reduced between 5/8 to 5/16 statute
miles.
Heavy Sandstrom (+SS) is the same as blowing sand, except horizontal visibility is reduced to less than 5/16
statute miles.
4.5.3.1 Tornadic Activity
A SPECI observation is required whenever these phenomena are observed to begin or disappear. This report
may be a single-element SPECI. The report shall contain the following items, if they are known:
a. Type (+FC or FC) in Column 9 and spelled out in Column 14 (TORNADO, WATERSPOUT, or
FUNNEL CLOUD).
b. Location with respect to the station.
c. Direction toward which the phenomenon is moving. If this is unknown, enter MOV UNKN in Column
14.
Tornadic activity shall be coded as the first remark after the RMK entry. For example, TORNADO 6 NE
would indicate that a tornado was 6 statute miles northeast of the station.
These elements should also appear in the remarks of the next METAR if not previously reported in a routine
report.
4.5.4 Thunderstorm
A SPECI observation is required when a thunderstorm, with or without precipitation, begins or ends.
The report should include:
a. Type (TS).
b. Location of each storm center with respect to the station.
c. Direction toward which the storm is moving. Omit if unknown.
The previous elements (a and c) should also appear in the remarks of the next METAR if not previously
reported in a routine report.
The beginning of a thunderstorm is the earliest time thunder is heard or lightning is observed at the station when
the local noise level is sufficient to prevent hearing thunder. The ending of a thunderstorm shall be reported 15
minutes after the last occurrence of any of the criteria listed above.

Ch. 4 Pg. 13

Thunderstorms (TS) are always reported when they occur. If precipitation is occurring at the time of observation
at the point of observation (falling on you head) when a thunderstorm is occurring they should be combined to
form one group, e.g., TSRA or TSSN or TSPL etc. If precipitation of any type, (Drizzle-DZ, Rain-RA,
Snow-SN, Snow Grains-SG, Ice Pellets-PL, Hail-GR or GS) of any intensity is occurring at the time of
observation but is not occurring at the point of observation (not falling on your head) when a thunderstorm is
occurring but is within 10 statute miles of the point of observation they should be reported in two separate
groups, e.g., TS VCSH.
When a thunderstorm (TS) is reported in column 9 (Present Weather) a remark in column 14 should be made to
indicate the location of the thunderstorm with respects to the station. If the movement of the thunderstorm is
known this should also be included in the column 14 remark. For example, if thunder is heard at the time of
observation, no precipitation was occurring with the thunderstorm, the thunderstorm is located southeast of the
station, movement is toward the northeast, this would be reported as follows:
Column 9 = TS

Column 14 = TS SE MOV NE

Thunder is heard at the time of observation, rain was occurring at the point of observation (falling on your head),
the thunderstorm is located northwest of the station, movement is toward the northeast, this would be reported as
follows:
Column 9 = TSRA

Column 14 = TS NW MOV NE

Thunder is heard at the time of observation, hail (GS) was occurring 1 statute mile north of the station but not at
the point of observation (not falling on your head), the thunderstorm is located north of the station, movement of
the thunderstorm is not known, this would be reported as follows:
Column 9 = TS VCSH

Column 14 = TS N VCSH N or TS N MOV UNKN VCSH N

4.5.5 Lightning
A luminous phenomenon accompanying a sudden electrical discharge. There are four main types of lightning that
can be distinguished:
a. CLOUD TO GROUND (CG). Lightning occurring between cloud and ground.
b. IN-CLOUD (IC). Lightning which takes place within the thunder cloud.
c. CLOUD TO CLOUD (CC). Streaks of lightning reaching from one cloud to another.
d. CLOUD-AIR (CA). Streaks of lightning which pass from a cloud to air, but do not strike the ground.
The frequency at which lightning is occurring is also reported. The frequency is based on the number of flashes of
lightning occurring per minute. There are three frequencies used in reporting lightning:
a. OCCASIONAL (OCNL). Less than 1 flash per minute.
b. FREQUENT (FRQ). About 1 to 6 flashes per minute.
c. CONTINUOUS (CONS). More than 6 flashes per minute.
When lightning is observed the frequency, type of lightning and location are reported in the Remarks section of
the observation (column 14 on MF1M-10C). The remark shall be coded in the format
Frequency_LTG(type)_[LOC]. The location and direction shall be reported as VC when 5 to 10 statute miles
Ch. 4 Pg. 14

of the point of observation. For example, frequent cloud to ground lightning occurring 6 statute miles northeast of
the station would be reported as: FRQ LTGCG VC NE. When phenomena is beyond 10 statute miles of the
point of observation it shall be reported as distant (DSNT) followed by the direction from the station. For
example, lightning 25 statute miles west of the station would be coded in remarks as: LTG DSNT W.
When a lightning remark is made when a thunderstorm is also being reported, the lightning remark will be
recorded first followed by the remark elaborating on the thunderstorm being reported in Present Weather
(column 9).
4.6 Other Significant Weather Phenomena
Observers shall be alert to weather phenomena that are visible from the station, but not occurring at the station.
Examples are fog banks, localized rain, snow blowing over runways, etc. They shall be reported when they are
considered to be operationally significant. Volcanic eruptions shall also be reported in the remarks section of a
report.
4.7 Coding of Present Weather Group(s)
No more than three weather groups shall be used to report weather phenomena at or near the station. If more
than one significant weather phenomena is observed, separate weather phenomena groups shall be included in
the report. Precipitation will always be reported before obscurations. If more than one form of precipitation is
observed, the appropriate abbreviations shall be combined in a single group with the dominant type of
precipitation being reported first. In such a single group, the intensity refers to the first precipitation type. The
precipitation that follows will be of equal or lesser intensity. The construction of the group is done with
consideration of columns 1 to 5 in Table 4-1 Notations for Reporting Present Weather, in sequence, i.e.,
intensity, followed by descriptor, followed by weather phenomena. For example heavy freezing rain and snow
with fog and haze would be coded as: +FZRASN FG HZ
The same is true if there is more than one type of obscuration. It is entered in the order of dominance. An
obscuration that is coded with another present weather group(s) is separated from it by a space.
Examples:

3/4SM TSRA BR

1/4SM TS VCSH FG

3SM BR FU HZ

Question: What does an observer do if there are more than three weather groups, or more than three
types of precipitation are occurring?
Answer:

The observer will decide which three groups and/or precipitation types are more dominant
than the rest, these three groups or precipitation types will then be coded in the
METAR/SPECI report in their order of dominance, the rest will not be reported.

Example: Occurring:

TS RA SN BR FU HZ

Thunderstorms are always reported when they occur. Moderate rain and snow (precipitation) are considered
part of the group that is coded with the thunderstorm, i.e., TSRASN or TSSNRA. This is one of the three
groups that may be reported. The choice now falls between the mist, smoke, and haze. Each is considered a
separate group. The observer needs to decide which is the least significant or which two are the most dominant.
The observer decides that smoke (FU) is least dominant, on this occasion. The present weather for this METAR
report could be: TSRASN BR HZ or TSSNRA HZ BR. The smoke is not used in the report.
Example: Occurring:

TS RA SN DZ GS BR

Ch. 4 Pg. 15

Thunderstorms are always reported when they occur. This time four types of precipitation are occurring, but
only three may be reported. The observer must decide which of these is the least dominant.
The choice for this observation is: TSSNRAGS BR
The light drizzle was considered least dominate this time and was not reported.
QUESTION: What does an observer do if there are two or more types of precipitation that might seem
impossible to combine to make a single group?
Example: Occurring: FZDZ GS or SHRA GS or SN IC GS or TS RA SN GR or RA GS
ANSWER: All precipitation (maximum 3 types of precipitation) must be combined into a single group.
Precipitation types GR, GS, and IC must be included into a single group if observed with
other precipitation. Intensity is not considered with these types of precipitation. If there are
more than three types of precipitation observed at the same time, you can only report three.
The least dominant would have to be eliminated from the report.
The choice for these observations is:

FZDZGS
SHRAGS
SNICGS
TSSNRAGR
RAGS

QUESTION: How would an observer report the following weather conditions: Dry Bulb below 0.1
Celsius, Visibility reduced to 5/16 statute miles due to light snow, Fog/Mist, and Blowing
Snow.
ANSWER: Precipitation is always reported before obscurations. The obscurations are next to be
reported in the order of decreasing dominance, that is the more dominant obscuration is
reported first. If the observer determines that the dominate obscuration is the Blowing
Snow he could report SN BLSN BR. The requirement for reporting BLSN is that it
reduces visibility to less than 7 statute miles. This means it could reduce it down to zero. It
also means it could have a greater effect on visibility than the BR. BLSN being reported as
the most dominate obscuration followed by BR indicates that the mist is effecting visibility
to a lesser degree.
Likewise with the above scenario, if the observer determines that the dominate obscuration is the
Fog/Mist he would report this as: SN FZFG BLSN
If the observer reports BR as the first obscuration this would be saying that it is the most dominant or is effecting
visibility to a greater degree than the BLSN. BR allowable range of effect on visibility is 6 statute miles to 5/8
statute miles. Also reporting BLSN after the BR means that it (BLSN) is effecting the visibility to a lesser degree.
That is why with the above scenario reporting present weather as SN BR BLSN would NOT be correct.
QUESTION: How would an observer report an obscuring phenomena that reduces visibility in
one or more sectors, however, the phenomena does not meet the criteria for
reporting sector visibility, that is, the sector or prevailing visibility is not less than
3 statute miles, or if the phenomena is a fog type obscuration but does not meet the
criteria to be classified as shallow, partial, or patches of fog, that is, the apparent
visibility in the fog layer is not less than 5/8 statute miles.

Ch. 4 Pg. 16

Example:
ANSWER:

Prevailing visibility is 10 statute miles, however, a surface based smoke layer is reducing
north through northeast sectors to 5 statute miles.

The criteria for reporting sector visibility has not be met and so is not reported. The remark
VIS LWR N-NE will let others know your visibility to the north-northeast is different than your
prevailing visibility.

QUESTION: How would an observer report the following condition? Light snow, light ice pellets, and light
freezing drizzle are occurring at the time of observation. However, the observer feels that, of the
three precipitation types, the light snow has a greater presents.
ANSWER:

Remember, the construction of the groups is done with consideration of columns 1 to 5 in Table
4-1 Notations for Reporting Present Weather, in sequence, that is, intensity, followed by
descriptor, followed by weather phenomena. This means, that, by default the light freezing drizzle
would be reported first, followed by the light snow, followed by the light ice pellets, i.e.,
FZDZSNPL.

The Weather Phenomena Matrix, found on the following two pages gives combinations of weather phenomena
and qualifiers (intensity, proximity, and descriptor) that are to be used in METAR/SPECI reports.

Ch. 4 Pg. 17

Weather Phenomena Matrix


WX PHENOMENA

QUALIFIER
Descriptor1

Intensity or Proximity
Light

MI

PR

BC

Low
Drifting
DR3

Drizzle

DZ

DZ

DZ

+DZ

Rain

RA

RA

RA

+RA

Snow

SN

SN

SN

+SN

Snow Grains

SG

SG

SG

+SG

Ice Crystals5

IC

IC

Ice Pellets

PL

PL

PL

+PL

Hail5,6

GR

GR

Small Hail5,7

GS

GS

Unknown

UP Automated Stations Only - No

Precipitation

Moderate

Heavy

Vicinity

Shallow

Partial

Patches

VC2

BL

SH

Thunde
r-storm
TS 4

FZDZ

SHRA

TSRA

FZRA

DRSN

BLSN

SHSN

TSSN

SHPL

TSPL

SHGR

TSGR

SHGS

TSGS

Thunderstorms, Showers, Freezing, and their Intensity or Proximity


8

Blowing Shower(s)

Freezing
FZ

TS

TS

VCTS

TSRA

TSRA

TSRA

+TSRA

TSSN

TSSN

TSSN

+TSSN

TSPL

TSPL

TSPL

+TSPL

TSGS

TSGS

TSGR

TSGR

SH

VCSH9

SHRA

SHRA

SHRA

+SHRA

SHSN

SHSN

SHSN

+SHSN

SHPL

SHPL

SHPL

+SHPL

SHGR

SHGR

SHGS

SHGS

FZDZ

FZDZ

FZDZ

+FZDZ

FZRA

FZRA

FZRA

+FZRA

FZFG

FZFG

BR 10

FG

11

BCFG

FZFG16

Smoke

FU

Volcanic Ash17

VA

Widespread Dust

Obscurations
Mist10
Fog

BR

11

12

13

14

FG

VCFG

MIFG

FU

VA17

DU

DU

DRDU

BLDU

Sand

SA

SA

DRSA

BLSA

Haze

HZ

HZ

Spray

PY

BLPY

Blowing Phenomena

PRFG

15

BLSN18

BLSN

VCBLSN

BLSN

BLSA

BLSA

VCBLSA

BLSA

BLDU

BLDU

VCBLD

BLDU

Sand/Dust Whirls

Other
PO

PO

VCPO

Squalls19

SQ

SQ

Funnel Cloud

FC

FC

Tornado/Waterspout2

+FC

+FC

Sandstorm 21

SS

SS

+SS

VCSS

Duststorm 22

DS

DS

+DS

VCDS

FOOTNOTES ON REVERSE SIDE

Ch. 4 Pg. 18

Footnotes for Weather Phenomena Matrix


1-

Only 1 descriptor shall be included for each weather phenomena group, e.g., BCFG. Only 2 exceptions exist to this rule: VCSH
and VCTS.

2-

Vicinity is defined as >0SM (not at point of observation) to 10SM of the point of observation for precipitation. Other than
precipitation (VCFG, VCBLSN, VCBLSA, VCBLDU, VCPO, VCSS, VCDS), vicinity is 5SM to 10SM.

3-

Raised by wind to less than 6 feet above the ground.

4-

TS may be reported by itself if no precipitation is associated with the thunderstorm.

5-

No intensity is ever given to hail (GR/GS[snow pellets]) or ice crystals (IC).

6-

Largest hailstone observed has a diameter of 1/4 inch or more.

7-

Hailstone diameter is less than 1/4 inch. No remark is entered for hailstone size.

8-

VCTS shall only be used by automated stations. Not a manual entry. If thunder is heard, TS shall be reported.

9-

Showers (SH), when associated with the indicator VC, the type and intensity of the showery precipitation shall not be specified,
i.e., +VCSHRA is not allowed; only VCSH would be reported. VCSH shall be used to report any type of precipitation not at
point of observation, but >0 to 10SM.

10 -

BR (mist) shall only be used when the visibility is at least 5/8SM, but not more than 6SM.

11 -

For FG (fog) to be reported without the qualifiers VC 12, MI13, PR14, or BC15 the visibility shall be less than 5/8 SM.

12 -

VC is used to report any type of fog observed in the vicinity (5-10SM) of the station.

13 -

MIFG (shallow fog) to be reported, the visibility at 6 feet above ground level shall be 5/8SM or more and the apparent visibility
in the fog layer shall be less than 5/8SM.

14 -

PRFG (partial fog) indicates that a substantial part of the station is covered by fog while the remainder is clear of fog.

15 -

BCFG (patches fog) indicates that patches of fog randomly cover the station.

16 -

FZFG is any fog consisting predominately of water droplets at temperatures below 0C, whether it is depositing rime or not.
The visibility must be less than 5/8 statute miles to report FZFG.

17 -

Volcanic Ash is always reported in the body of the METAR/SPECI when present. Visibility is not a factor.

18 -

SN BLSN indicates snow falling from clouds with blowing snow occurring. If the observer cannot determine whether or not
snow is also falling from clouds, then only BLSN shall be reported.

19 -

SQ (squall) is a sudden increase in wind speed of at least 16 knots, the speed rising to 22 knots or more and lasting for at least
one minute.

20 -

Tornadoes and Waterspouts shall be reported using the indicator "+", i.e., +FC.

21 -

SS (sandstorm) reported if the visibility is > 5/16SM and < 5/8SM. Report +SS if the visibility is < 5/16SM.

22 -

DS (duststorm) reported if the visibility is > 5/16SM and < 5/8SM. Report +DS if the visibility is < 5/16SM.

No more than three weather groups shall be used to report weather phenomena at or near the station. If more than one significant weather
phenomena is observed, separate weather phenomena groups shall be included in the report. If more than one form of precipitation is
observed, the appropriate abbreviations shall be combined in a single group with the predominant type of precipitation being reported
first. In such a single group, the intensity shall refer to the total precipitation and be reported with one or no indicator as appropriate, e.g.,
RASN FG HZ.
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
National Weather Service - Observing Systems Branch
1325 East-West Highway
Silver Spring, MD 20910

METAR\TA3\1/23/98

Ch. 4 Pg. 19

VISIBILITY

SURFACE

TOWER

RUNWAY VISUAL RANGE


(Feet)

(7a)

(7b)

(8)

PRESENT
WEATHER

SKY CONDITION

TEMP.
(C)

DEW
POINT
(C)

ALTIMETER
SETTING
(Ins.)

REMARKS AND SUPPLEMENTAL CODED DATA

TOTAL
SKY
COVER
(0-8)

(9)

(10)

(11)

(12)

(13)

(14)

(17)

Report if Occurring at the Station at the Time of Observation


Tornado/Waterspout . . . . . . . +FC

Ice Pellets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PL

Ice Crystals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IC

Funnel Cloud . . . . . . . . . . . . FC

Ice Pellet Shower(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SHPL

Hail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GR

Thunderstorm . . . . . . . . . . . . TS

Small Hail/Snow Pellets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GS

Hail Shower(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . SHGR

Rain . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . RA

Small Hail/Snow Pellets Shower(s) . . . . . . . . . . SHGS

Low Drifting Dust . . . . . . . . . . DRDU

Rain Shower(s) . . . . . . . . . . . SHRA Snow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SN

Low Drifting Sand . . . . . . . . . . DRSA

Freezing Rain . . . . . . . . . . . . FZRA Snow Shower(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SHSN

Low Drifting Snow . . . . . . . . . DRSN

Drizzle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DZ

Volcanic Ash . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VA

Snow Grains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SG

Freezing Drizzle . . . . . . . . . . FZDZ


Precipitation Intensity Symbols
+ Heavy

Light

Absence of intensity symbol indicates moderate. No intensity is assigned to Ice Crystals, Hail, or Small Hail/Snow Pellets.
Report These Obscurations Only If They Reduce Prevailing Visibility To Less Than 7SM (or are considered operational
significant) And Are Occurring At The Time of Observation
Mist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BR

Widespread Dust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DU

Blowing Sand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BLSA

Smoke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FU

Blowing Dust . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BLDU

Blowing Snow . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BLSN

Haze . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . HZ

Sand . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SA

Blowing Spray . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BLPY

Report These Obscurations Only If They Reduce Prevailing Visibility To Less Than 5/8SM At The Time Of Observation
Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FG

Freezing Fog (when temperature is 0.1C or lower) . . . . . . . . . . . FZFG

Report These Obscurations Only If They Reduce Prevailing Visibility From 3/8SM to 5/8SM At The Time Of Observation
Sandstorm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SS

Duststorm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DS

+ Is placed before phenomena if it reduces visibility to 5/16 or less


Report These Obscurations Only If They Are Occur Within 5SM Of the Point of Observation At The Time Of Observation
Shallow Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MIFG

Partial Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PRFG

Patches of Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BCFG

Sand/Dust Whirls (Dust Devils) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PO

Report if Any Type of Precipitation of Any Intensity not Falling On Your Head But Occurring within 10SM At The Time
Of Observation
Showers in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VCSH
Report if Not Occurring At The Point of Observation But Is Occurring At A Location That is Between 5 to 10SM From The
Point of Observation At The Time Of Observation
Fog in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . VCFG Blowing Snow in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . VCBLSN
Sandstorm in the Vicinity . . . . . . . VCSS Blowing Sand in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . VCBLSA

Sand/Dust Whirls (Dust


Devils) in the Vicinity . . . . . . . VCPO

Duststorm in the Vicinity . . . . . . . VCDS Blowing Dust in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . VCBLDU


Report If There Is A Sudden Increase In the Average Wind Speed By At Least 16 Knots and Sustained at 22 Knots or More
For At Least 1 minute
Squall(s) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SQ

Ch. 4 Pg. 20

VISIBILITY

SURFACE

TOWER

RUNWAY VISUAL RANGE


(Feet)

(7a)

(7b)

(8)

PRESENT
WEATHER

SKY CONDITION

TEMP.
(C)

DEW
POINT
(C)

ALTIMETER
SETTING
(Ins.)

REMARKS AND SUPPLEMENTAL CODED DATA

TOTAL
SKY
COVER
(0-8)

(9)

(10)

(11)

(12)

(13)

(14)

(17)

PRESENT WEATHER

Entries made in column 9 that require


appropriate remarks in column 14

REMARKS

Tornado/Waterspout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . +FC . . . . . . . . . TORNADO, FUNNEL CLOUD, or WATERSPOUT (location)


Funnel Cloud . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . FC
(movement); e.g., TORNADO W MOV NE. FUNNEL CLOUD
6 NW would indicate that a funnel cloud was 6 statute miles
northwest of the station. WATERSPOUT MOV N would indicate
that a waterspout had ended and moved north.
Thunderstorm . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TS . . . . . . . . . TS (location) (movement); e.g., TS SE MOV NE would indicate that
a thunderstorm was southeast of the station moving toward the
northeast.
Hail . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . GR . . . . . . . . . GR (size); e.g., GR 1 3/4 would indicate that the largest hailstones
were 1 3/4 inches in diameter
Sand/Dust Whirls (Dust Devils) . . . . . . . . . PO . . . . . . . . . PO (location); e.g., PO SE would indicate that dust devils are
southeast of the station (within 5 statute miles).
Showers in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VCSH . . . . . . . . . VCSH (location); e.g., VCSH S AND W would indicate that there
are showers in the vicinity south and west of the station (within 10
statute miles).
Fog in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . VCFG . . . . . . . . . VCFG (location); e.g., VCFG W-N would indicate that there was fog
in the vicinity west through north of the station (within 5 to 10 statute
miles).
Shallow Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . MIFG . . . . . . . . . MIFG, PRFG, or BCFG (location); e.g., MIFG NW-E would indicate that
Partial Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PRFG
shallow fog was northwest through east of the station (within 5 statute
Patches of Fog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . BCFG
miles). PRFG OVR RWY 18 would indicate that partial fog was over
runway 18. BCFG N and SE would indicate that patches of fog were north
and southeast of the station.
Sandstorm in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . . VCSS . . . . . . . . . VCDS or VCSS (location); e.g., VCSS N-SE would indicate that
Duststorm in the Vicinity . . . . . . . . . . . . VCDS
there was a sandstorm in the vicinity north through southeast of the
station (between 5 to 10 statute miles).
Blowing Snow in the Vicinity . . . . . . VCBLSN . . . . . . . . . VCBLSN, VCBLSA, or VCBLDU (location); e.g., VCBLSN S
Blowing Sand in the Vicinity . . . . . . . VCBLSA
would indicate that blowing snow was in the vicinity south of the
Blowing Dust in the Vicinity . . . . . . . VCBLDU
station (between 5 to 10 statute miles.
Sand/Dust Whirls (Dust Devils) in the Vicinity
VCPO

VCPO (location); e.g., VCPO SE would indicate that dust devels are in the
. . . . . . . . . vicinity southeast of the station (between 5 to 10 statute miles).

OTHER FREQUENTLY USED REMARKS


Lightning..........(Frequency [OCNL, FRQ, or CONS]) LTG (type [CG, IC,
CC, or CA]) (location); e.g., OCNL LTGCGIC NW would indicate that
occasional cloud-ground and in-cloud lightning northwest of the station
Fog beyond 10 statute miles from station..........FG BNK DSNT E-S
indicates there is a distant fog bank east through south of the station.

Ch. 4 Pg. 21

Ch. 4 Pg. 22

REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. The intensity indicators for rain are?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Light (), Moderate (0), Severe (+)


Thin (), Moderate ( ), Heavy (+)
Light (), Moderate ( ), Heavy (+)
Light (), Medium ( ), Heavy (+)

2. Volcanic ash is reported:


a.
b.
c.
d.

when visibility is less than 7 miles


only during daylight hours
whenever it occurs
only if accompanied by fog or mist

3. Precipitation is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

any particle falling from the sky


any form of water particles that falls from the atmosphere and reaches the ground
any form of water found at the earths surface
water in any state (liquid, solid, vapor) moving through the atmosphere

4. The beginning of a thunderstorm will be reported when:


a.
b.
c.
d.

thunder is heard
lightning is observed, but local noise prevents hearing thunder
observe lightning at a distance, but no thunder is heard
both a and b

5. The visibility at your station was reduced from 12 miles to 7 miles by mist, light snow, and haze.
What minimum entry should you make in column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

BR SN HZ
SN BR HZ
SN BRHZ
SN

6. Occassional lightning is observed 8 miles north of the station, but thunder is not heard. What is reported in
Column 9 (Present Weather) and Column 14 (Remarks)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Col. 9: nothing; Col. 14: OCNL LTG VC N


Col. 9: TS; Col. 14: OCNL LTG N
Col. 9: VCTS; Col. 14: OCNL LTG N
Col. 9: VCTS; Col. 14 OCNL LTG 8 N

Ch. 4 Pg. 23

REVIEW QUESTIONS
7. Light Drizzle (DZ) is reported when drizzle is occurring with fog and the visibility is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

1/4 to 1/2 mile.


less than 1/4 mile.
less than 1/2 mile.
any of the above.

8. The ending of a thunderstorm shall be reported


a.
b.
c.
d.

minutes after the last occurrence of the event.

5 minutes
10 minutes
15 minutes
30 minutes

9. Which of the following precipitation events does not require a SPECI report?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Ice pellets begin.


Hail begins.
FZRA changes to FZRA.
SN changes to +SN.

10. Ice formed on exposed surfaces by freezing rain or freezing drizzle is known as:
a.
b.
c.
d.

glaze
frost.
rime.
ice pellets.

11. Report thunderstorms occurring at your station when


a.
b.
c.
d.

is/are observed within the past 15 minutes.

very dark CB overhead and lightning in all quadrants


heavy rain showers and 55 knot winds
heavy rain showers and 1/2 inch hail
3/4 inch hail 20 minutes earlier, but not at the time of the observation

12. Moderate snow (SN) is reported when snow is occurring alone and the visibility is less than:
a.
b.
c.
d.

5/8 of a mile, but not less than 5/16 of a mile.


3/4 of a mile, but not less than 5/16 of a mile.
5/8 of a mile, but not less than 1/8 of a mile.
1 mile, but not less than 1/2 mile.

13. A light intensity symbol () is never used to report:


a.
b.
c.
d.

ice crystals.
ice pellets.
snow showers.
freezing drizzle.

Ch. 4 Pg. 24

REVIEW QUESTIONS
14. Which of the following phenomena may be classified as having heavy intensity?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Hail
Thunderstorm
Funnel cloud
Sandstorm

15. If more than one obscuration is occurring at the same time the obscurations will be entered in Column
(Present Weather) in the order of:
a.
b.
c.
d.

their beginning.
decreasing dominance.
increasing dominance.
intensity.

16. A complex weather situation, represented by light rain showers, light snow showers (dominant), and a
thunderstorm is present. Entries are made in the following order:
a.
b.
c.
d.

TS RASN
TSSNRA
TS SNRA
TSSHSNRA

17. The weather phenomena FZRASN indicates which type of weather is occurring at the station?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Light freezing rain and snow.


Light freezing rain and moderate snow.
Freezing rain and light snow showers.
Light rain showers and snow.

18. The visibility at your station was reduced from 12 miles to 7 miles by mist, light snow, and smoke.
is the minimum entry that should be made in Column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

SN
SN BR FU
BR
BR SN FU

19. Blowing dust is reducing the prevailing visibility to 5/8 statute mile, what would be recorded in
9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

What

Column

BLDU
+BLDU
DS
+DS

Ch. 4 Pg. 25

REVIEW QUESTIONS
20. The visibility decreased from 1 mile to 1/2 mile in fog. At the same time, the temperature decreased from
1.5C to 0.0C, what should be recorded in Column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

FZFG
BR
FG
FZBR

21. If light snow and blowing snow are occurring at the same time and the observer can no longer
if light snow is falling, what should be reported in Column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

determine

BLSN
SN BLSN
SN BLSN
BLSN

22. Steady rain is observed 4 miles NE to SE from the station, how should it be recorded?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Remarks: RA NE-SE
Remarks: VCSH
Column 9 (Present Weather): VCSH
Column 9 (Present Weather): RA, and in Remarks: RA NE-SE

23. Heavy rain (+RA) is reported when the rate-of-fall is:


a.
b.
c.
d.

more than 0.01 inch to 0.03 inch in 6 minutes


more than 0.11 inch to 0.30 inch per hour
more than 0.30 inch per hour
more than 0.20 inch per hour

24. When more than one type of present weather are reported at the same time, present weather shall be
reported in the following order:
a.
b.
c.
d.

Tornadic activity, obscurations, precipitation


Tornadic activity, thunderstorms, precipitation, obscurations, other weather
Thunderstorms, precipitation, obscurations, other weather
Tornadic activity, precipitation, thunderstorms, other weather

25. The intensity of snow occurring alone is determined according to:


a.
b.
c.
d.

the degree that it effects visibility.


the rate of accumulation.
whether it is showery or intermittent.
the temperature of the dew point

26. Which of the following is a minus sign () used to show light intensity?
a.
b.
c.
d.

TS
IC
GS
SG

Ch. 4 Pg. 26

REVIEW QUESTIONS
27. When is lightning reported in Column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

lightning is overhead
lightning is observed and the wind gusts exceed 50 knots
hailstone size exceeds 3/4 inch
lightning is never reported in Column 9

28. Sand raised by the wind to less than 6 feet is coded as:
a.
b.
c.
d.

BLSA
MISA
SHSA
DRSA

29. The observer reports IC in Column 9 (Present Weather). Given this report, which of the following
statements is correct?
a.
b.
c.
d.

The visibility is less than one mile.


The sky may be clear.
The air is unstable with rapidly changing weather conditions.
The observer has made an error in Column 9.

30. Fog that covers a substantial part of the station and the prevailing visibility is 7 miles would be coded in the
present weather as:
a.
b.
c.
d.

BR
PRFG
MIFG
BCFG

31. Patches of fog randomly cover the station, but the prevailing visibility is 7 miles. What is reported in
Column 9 (Present Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

nothing
BCFG
BR
VCFG

32. Proximity qualifier(s) is (are):


a.
b.
c.
d.

light, moderate, heavy


vicinity
weak, strong, violent
light, moderate, strong

Ch. 4 Pg. 27

REVIEW QUESTIONS
33. The intensity of snow, occurring alone, is reported as moderate when the prevailing visibility is 1/2 to 5/16
mile. When obscuring phenomena are also present, you could not report moderate snow if the prevailing
visibility is:
a.
b.
c.
d.

0SM
1/2SM
1/4SM
3/4SM

34. Which of the following phenomena can be reported with an intensity qualifier?
a.
b.
c.
d.

drizzle
fog
small hail
smoke

35. Obscurations should be reported only when the prevailing visibility is less than 7 miles except for:
a.
b.
c.
d.

Volcanic Ash
Partial Fog
Patches of Fog
All of the above

36. Rain showers of an unknown intensity are observed approximately 7 to 8 miles north of the station. What
should be recorded in Column 9 (Present Weather) and/or Column 14 (Remarks)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Column 9: VCSH; Column 14: VCSH N


Column 9: nothing required; Column 14: VCSH 7-8 N
Column 9: VCSH; Column 14: RA SH UNKN N
nothing required in either column

37. Fog/mist is responsible for lowering the visibility to 5/8 mile. Light rain is also occurring, the present weather
would be coded:
a.
b.
c.
d.

FG RA
RA FG
RA BR
BR RA

38. A large are of fog is observed 6 miles NE-S of the station. What is reported in Column 9 (Present
Weather)?
a.
b.
c.
d.

nothing
VCFG
PRFG
BCFG

Ch. 4 Pg. 28

REVIEW QUESTIONS
39. The intensity of which of the following types of precipitation may be determined by visibility?
a.
b.
c.
d.

Ice crystals
Freezing rain
Hail
Snow

40. Which of the following requires a special observation?


a.
b.
c.
d.

TS ends
-SN begins
SHRA ends
SG begins

41. The intensity of drizzle occurring alone must be determined by


a.
b.
c.
d.

total accumulation of water.


degree to which the drizzle affects visibility.
rate of accumulation of water.
size of drops

42. An entry for a present weather group must be made when the prevailing visibility is
a.
b.
c.
d.

15 miles or less.
10 miles or less.
6 miles or less.
less than 10 miles.

43. Which report is in the correct order?


a.
b.
c.
d.

TSRAGR
BR -RA HZ
-PLFZDZ
TSFGRA

44. Thunder is heard from a thunderstorm west of the station, moving NE, accompanied by frequent
cloud-to-cloud lightning. It is reported in the remarks column (14) as
a.
b.
c.
d.

TS W MOV NE FRQ LTGCC


FRQ LTGCC W TS W MOV NE
CB TS W FRQ LTGCC MOV NE
TS W MOV NE LTGCC.

45. The weather phenomena that are always written out in full in aviation weather reports in column 14 are:
a.
b.
c.
d.

thunderstorms, heavy rain, or rain showers.


blowing dust and sand.
hail and ice pellets.
tornadoes, waterspouts, and funnel clouds.

Ch. 4 Pg. 29

REVIEW QUESTIONS
46. A light intensity qualifier is not used with
a.
b.
c.
d.

DZ
PL
TS
SN

47. One characteristic of patches of fog is that it


a.
b.
c.
d.

usually extends to great heights.


hides the entire sky.
is less than 20 feet deep.
normally extends to about 40 feet vertically.

48. Haze, blowing sand, blowing snow, and smoke are coded as
a.
b.
c.
d.

Z, BS, BLSN, SN
HZ, BS, BLSN, SK
HZ, BLBN, BLSN, SK
HZ, BLSA BLSN, FU

49. A thunderstorm with heavy rain showers and 3/4 inch hail is recorded as
a.
b.
c.
d.

+TSRAGR
+TSRAGS
+TSGRSHRA
TSGRRASH+

50. Which condition below is classified as an obscuration to vision?


a.
b.
c.
d.

Blowing snow.
Drifting snow.
Light rain.
Thunderstorm.

51. Precipitation is entered in column 9 in which order?


a.
b.
c.
d.

time each element began


decreasing dominance
rate of fall
effect it has on visibility

52. Which of the following requires a special observation?


a.
b.
c.
d.

A tornado is reported by the police to have occurred 5 hours ago


visibility decreases to 3 miles
volcanic eruptions
sky condition changes from BKN050 to BKN030

Ch. 4 Pg. 30