Differences between METARs worldwide

October, 20, 2021 by

When departing or arriving at an airport, you should always check the METAR, to understand how the weather conditions are at the airport. But, did you know that there are different ways METARs are formated around the world?

Before we go further, it is important to understand what METAR is. METAR is abbreviated which stands for Meteorological Aerodrome Report. Under the definition of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: *“METAR is the international standard code format for hourly surface weather observations.”* However, some countries in the world deviate from the standard form of METAR. Particularly, North America, Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and Ukraine are the most noticeable ones.

# North America
Firstly, in North America, the visibility in the METARs differs from the standard format in meters by using the imperial unit; **statute miles**. The airports there will report METAR like this example:

KLAX 021700Z 18018KT **10SM** BR OVC006 05/05 A3010 RMK ST8 SLP194

As you can see, The visibility highlighted in bold (10SM) is shown in statute miles rather than meters (metric unit) which is more commonly used worldwide.

# Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and Ukraine
Additionally, countries in Asia are also deviating from using the standard international format of METAR. The wind indicated in the METAR in countries; Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, China, and Ukraine does not use knots. Instead, they are using **meters per second (MPS)**. An example of the METAR that will be shown is

UUEE 180830Z **28004MPS** 9999 BKN012 04/02 Q1008 R24L/290051 R24R/290051 NOSIG.

To conclude, METARs is a code format that is used internationally for people to read surface weather observations at airports. However, some countries do not use the complete standard format for METAR because the country’s authorities determined that the domestic transition to the METAR code is vital for the community to understand.

Lawin is a contributor and IFATC Officer.