The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Reading a METAR

Here's an interesting meteorological aviation record (METAR) code, describing unusual events in Chicago for this late in the year:

KORD 060151Z 02020G25KT 1/2SM R14R/4000V5500FT SN FG BKN006 OVC012 01/M01 A2971 RMK AO2 PK WND 02027/0118 SLP066 SNINCR 1/1 P0012 T00061011 $

Hmmm....what does all that mean?

KORD: That's Chicago O'Hare International, the offical weather station for my home city.

060151Z: The record is from the 6th at 1:51 Zulu, or 8:51 pm CDT. Twenty minutes ago.

02020G25KT: The winds are from the north (20°) at 20 knots gusting to 25 knots. This is officially known as "inside-out umbrella speed." More locally, at least in my world, it's known as "Parker-would-you-@&%(*!-hurry-up" speed.

1/2 SM: Visibility is half a mile. (R14R/4000V5500FT means on runway 14R visibility is variable betwen 4000 ft and 5500 ft.)

SN FG: There is snow and fog.

OVC012: There is an overcast cloud layer at 1200 ft above the ground, roughly around the 70th floor of the Hancock Center.

01/M01: The temperature is a balmy 1°C with a dewpoint of -1°C, just the right temperature for really heavy and wet snow. And fog.

A2971: The barometric pressure (altimeter reading) is 29.71 inches, indicating a low pressure zone.

RMK: Remarks follow. Oh, do they.

PK WND 02027/0118: There was a peak, 1-minute wind of 27 knots at 01:18 Zulu, 8:18 pm CDT.

SLP066: Sea-level pressure was 1006 hPa. Because Chicago is less than 200 m above sea level, though, this isn't the most helpful measurement. Nor is it the most interesting remark; no, that's:

SNINCR 1/1: Snow is increasing rapidly at the rate of 1 inch per hour. Yummy.

P0012: A total of 0.12 inches of precipitation fell in the last hour. Snow, though. In April.

T00061011: More precisely than reported in the "official" METAR, the temperature was 0.6°C and the dewpoint was -1.1°C.

$: The weather instruments need maintenance, no doubt because they're dumbfounded that there's a blizzard on April 6th.

So now you have a thorough explication of the current METAR code describing for pilots the weather that (a) they shouldn't really fly through and (b) I just walked my dog in. In April.

My friend in Kyiv, which was 15°C and sunny today, actually sent me a message to laugh at me. Kyiv. The capital of Ukraine. Which actually has spring weather in April.

I'm going to go cry now, and thank the Baseball Powers that Be for scheduling the Cubs opener tomorrow in Houston.

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