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How to read TAFs

Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts

TAFs are very similar to METARs in the sense that they use the same coding abbreviations and a very similar structure.  Obviously the main difference between a METAR and a TAF is that the TAF is a forecast while the METAR is just a quick snapshot in time, and is instantly old the moment it is taken, and continues to get older until the new one is issued approximately an hour later.

Facts about TAFs:

  • Issued every 6 hours (4 times a day)
  • Valid for 24-30 hours
  • Covers an area with a 5nm radius from the center of the airport

Check out the video above, and then see how you do decoding the examples below.  The decoded versions are also below.

Example 1:

KTPA 222320Z 2300/2324 12006KT P6SM FEW040 SCT060 OVC250
FM231500 15011KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 OVC050
FM231900 19011G16KT P6SM VCTS SCT030CB OVC060
FM232100 21010G15KT 6SM SHRA VCTS SCT030CB OVC050

Example 2:

KCLT 222331Z 2300/2324 10005KT P6SM BKN050 OVC250
FM230700 12006KT P6SM OVC025
FM230900 12007KT P6SM VCSH SCT008 OVC015
FM231200 12010KT 5SM -SHRA BR OVC008
FM231600 14011KT 3SM SHRA OVC004
FM231900 15012KT 3SM SHRA SCT004 OVC008
PROB30 2319/2324 2SM TSRA BR OVC004CB

 

 

 

Decoded Example 1:

TAF for: KTPA (Tampa Intl Arpt, FL, US) issued at 2320 UTC 22 Oct 2017
Text: KTPA 222320Z 2300/2324 12006KT P6SM FEW040 SCT060 OVC250
Forecast period: 0000 to 1500 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the ESE (120 degrees) at 7 MPH (6 knots; 3.1 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 25000 feet AGL
Clouds: few clouds at 4000 feet AGL, scattered clouds at 6000 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 25000 feet AGL
Text: FM231500 15011KT P6SM VCSH SCT025 OVC050
Forecast period: 1500 to 1900 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the SSE (150 degrees) at 13 MPH (11 knots; 5.7 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 5000 feet AGL
Clouds: scattered clouds at 2500 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 5000 feet AGL
Weather: VCSH (showers in vicinity)
Text: FM231900 19011G16KT P6SM VCTS SCT030CB OVC060
Forecast period: 1900 to 2100 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the S (190 degrees) at 13 MPH (11 knots; 5.7 m/s) gusting to 18 MPH (16 knots; 8.2 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 6000 feet AGL
Clouds: scattered clouds at 3000 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 6000 feet AGL
Weather: VCTS (thunderstorm in vicinity)
Text: FM232100 21010G15KT 6SM SHRA VCTS SCT030CB OVC050
Forecast period: 2100 UTC 23 October 2017 to 0000 UTC 24 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the SSW (210 degrees) at 12 MPH (10 knots; 5.1 m/s) gusting to 17 MPH (15 knots; 7.7 m/s)
Visibility: 6 sm ( 10 km)
Ceiling: 5000 feet AGL
Clouds: scattered clouds at 3000 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 5000 feet AGL
Weather: SHRA VCTS (rain showers, thunderstorm in vicinity)

 

Decoded Example 2:

TAF for: KCLT (Charlotte/Douglas In, NC, US) issued at 2331 UTC 22 Oct 2017
Text: KCLT 222331Z 2300/2324 10005KT P6SM BKN050 OVC250
Forecast period: 0000 to 0700 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the E (100 degrees) at 6 MPH (5 knots; 2.6 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 5000 feet AGL
Clouds: broken clouds at 5000 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 25000 feet AGL
Text: FM230700 12006KT P6SM OVC025
Forecast period: 0700 to 0900 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the ESE (120 degrees) at 7 MPH (6 knots; 3.1 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 2500 feet AGL
Clouds: overcast cloud deck at 2500 feet AGL
Text: FM230900 12007KT P6SM VCSH SCT008 OVC015
Forecast period: 0900 to 1200 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the ESE (120 degrees) at 8 MPH (7 knots; 3.6 m/s)
Visibility: 6 or more sm (10+ km)
Ceiling: 1500 feet AGL
Clouds: scattered clouds at 800 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 1500 feet AGL
Weather: VCSH (showers in vicinity)
Text: FM231200 12010KT 5SM -SHRA BR OVC008
Forecast period: 1200 to 1600 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the ESE (120 degrees) at 12 MPH (10 knots; 5.1 m/s)
Visibility: 5 sm ( 8 km)
Ceiling: 800 feet AGL
Clouds: overcast cloud deck at 800 feet AGL
Weather: -SHRA BR (light rain showers, mist)
Text: FM231600 14011KT 3SM SHRA OVC004
Forecast period: 1600 to 1900 UTC 23 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the SE (140 degrees) at 13 MPH (11 knots; 5.7 m/s)
Visibility: 3 sm ( 5 km)
Ceiling: 400 feet AGL
Clouds: overcast cloud deck at 400 feet AGL
Weather: SHRA (rain showers)
Text: FM231900 15012KT 3SM SHRA SCT004 OVC008
Forecast period: 1900 UTC 23 October 2017 to 0000 UTC 24 October 2017
Forecast type: FROM: standard forecast or significant change
Winds: from the SSE (150 degrees) at 14 MPH (12 knots; 6.2 m/s)
Visibility: 3 sm ( 5 km)
Ceiling: 800 feet AGL
Clouds: scattered clouds at 400 feet AGL, overcast cloud deck at 800 feet AGL
Weather: SHRA (rain showers)
Text: PROB30 2319/2324 2SM TSRA BR OVC004CB
Forecast period: 1900 UTC 23 October 2017 to 0000 UTC 24 October 2017
Forecast type: PROBABLE: 30 percent likelihood of the following during this time
Visibility: 2.00 sm ( 3.22 km)
Ceiling: 400 feet AGL
Clouds: overcast cloud deck at 400 feet AGL
Weather: TSRA BR (rain associated with thunderstorm(s), mist)