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METAR (aviation routine weather report) is a format for reporting weather information. A METAR weather report is predominantly used by pilots in fulfillment of a part of a pre-flight weather briefing, and by meteorologists, who use aggregated METAR information to assist in weather forecasting.

METAR reports typically come from airports or permanent weather observation stations. Reports are typically generated once an hour; however, if conditions change significantly, they may be updated in special reports called SPECI's. Some reports are encoded by an automated airport weather station located at airports, military bases and other sites. Some locations still use augmented observations, which are recorded by digital sensors and encoded via software, but are reviewed by certified weather observers or forecasters prior to being transmitted. Observations may also be taken by trained observers or forecasters who manually observe and encode their observations prior to their being transmitted.

The METAR format was introduced 1 January 1968 internationally and has been modified several times since. North American countries continued to use a Surface Aviation Observation (SAO) for current weather conditions until 1 June 1996 when this report was replaced with an approved variant of the METAR agreed upon in a 1989 Geneva agreement. The World Meteorological Organization's publication No. 782 "Aerodrome Reports and Forecasts" contains the base METAR code as adopted by the WMO member countries

The word METAR originated from the French phrase "message d’observation météorologique régulière pour l’aviation," and is thought to be a contraction of the French words MÉTéorologique ("Weather") Aviation Régulière ("Routine"). The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines a METAR as an aviation routine weather report in the Aeronautical Informational Manual and may therefore consider it erroneous to attempt to redefine METAR with incorrect terminology such as METeorological Aerodrome Report. The FAA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) specifically define a METAR as an aviation routine weather report, which is an approximate translation of the historical French description.

A typical METAR report contains data for the temperature, dew point, wind speed and direction, precipitation, cloud cover and heights, visibility, and barometric pressure. A METAR report may also contain information on precipitation amounts, lightning, and other information that would be of interest to pilots or meteorologists such as Colour States.

In addition, a short period forecast called a TREND may be added at the end of the METAR covering likely changes in weather conditions in the two hours following the observation. These are in the same format as a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF).

In meteorology and aviation, TAF is a format for reporting weather forecast information, particularly as it relates to aviation. "TAF" is an acronym of Terminal Aerodrome Forecast or, in some countries, Terminal Area Forecast. Generally a 9- or 12-hour forecast, though some TAFs can cover an 18- or 24-hour period, it complements and uses similar encoding to METAR reports.

TAFs are always produced by a human forecaster based on the ground. For this reason there are far fewer TAF locations than there are METARs. TAFs are much more accurate than Numerical Weather Forecasts, since they take into account local, small-scale, geographic effects.

In the United States the weather forecaster responsible for a TAF is not usually stationed at the location that the TAF applies to. The forecaster usually work from a centralised location responsible for many TAFs in a state or region, many of which are over 100 miles away from the forecaster's location. In contrast, a TTF (Trend Type Forecast), which is similar to a TAF, is always produced by a person on-site where the TTF applies. In the United Kingdom most TAFs at military airfields are produced locally, however TAFs for civil airfields are produced at the Met Office headquarters in Exeter.



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