What is METAR?

Decoding Metar
What is METAR?

If you’re learning to fly (like me!), you’ve probably noticed that there are a LOT of acronyms. VFR. ATC. NOTAM. SIGMET. And, of course, METAR.

A METAR is a code for understanding weather. It’s a standardized way of telling another pilot what’s going on on the ground. (If you’re curious, the acronym stands for Meteorological Aerodrome Report. That makes as much sense to me as it does to you.)


I’m looking outside my window right now, and I see a couple cumulus clouds, light winds, and a chilly fall day. If a pilot called me on the radio and asked to describe what I see, I could tell them what I just told you. But there could be a thousand different ways to describe the weather I’m seeing!

In the early days of aviation, this was okay. But as the skies became crowded, things had to standardize, and in 1968 the METAR was officially defined.

The Metar has multiple parts. Let’s look at this one closely so we can break it down.

Decoding METAR

A METAR contains data about the temperature, dew point, wind direction and speed, precipitation, cloud cover and heights, visibility, and barometric pressure of a particular airport. It’s measured from the ground, and recorded hourly.

Here’s an example:

METAR KPSF 291354Z AUTO 23007KT 200V260 10SM
OVC043 M04/M10 A2997 RMK AO2 SLP165 T10391100

Let’s break down what’s happening, word by word.

METAR: This means we’re reading a METAR, duh! KPSF: Pittsfield Airport 291354Z: The day of the month (29) and the time (1354Z, or 13:54 Zulu time) AUTO: This METAR was automatically generated 23007KT: The wind is coming from 230 degrees at 7 knots 200V260: The wind direction is varying between 200 and 260 degrees 10SM: The visibility is 10 statute miles OVC043: The sky is overcast at 4300 feet M04/M10: The temperature is -4 degrees Celsius, and the dew point is -10 degrees Celsius A2997: The altimeter setting is 29.97 inches of mercury RMK AO2 SLP165 T10391100: Remarks. AO2 means the station has an automated weather observing system with precipitation discriminator. SLP165 means the sea level pressure is 1016.5 hPa. T10391100 is the hourly temperature and dew point in tenths of degrees Celsius.

Ok! We just read a METAR. Now we have to learn all the abbreviations 😅. They’re linked here. Or, instead of memorizing this list, practice by taking your first MetarQuiz!

Take a Quiz ->