Aviators use METAR reports to get essential knowledge of flying conditions. To the casual observer this may look like a string of random letters and numbers, but we will teach you how to decode such a report. The following is an example of a METAR, showing weather conditions from O' Hare Airport.
METAR KORD 041656Z 19020G26KT 6SM -SHRA BKN070 12/08 A3016 RMK AO2
Type of Report
The two types of surface observation reports will either be a METAR, which is scheduled observation taken usually at the end of each hour, or a SPECI, which is a special unscheduled observation usually taken when certain criteria are met such as low visibility, low clouds, frozen precipitation, or thunderstorms.
The first letter "K" is the prefix for location identifiers in the Continental US. The next three letters makes up the unique id for that airport. "ORD" is the id for O' Hare.
The first two numbers "04" represent the day of the month that the report was released, the next four numbers represent the time at which the report went out, and "Z" tells that the time is in ZULU.
The first three numbers (190) indicates the wind's direction in degrees, the next two numbers (20) is the speed of the winds in knots, the "G26" indicates that wind gusts are 26 knots, lastly, "KT" simply means knots, it will always be on the end.
6SM simply means six Statute Miles.
Intensity followed by a descriptor. "-" means light, "SH" means showers, and "RA" means rain. more information on descriptors can be found here: SFCTraining
"BKN" represents a broken sky, "070" represents that the clouds are at 7,000 feet.
"12" represents the temperature in Celsius and 08 represents the dew point in Celsius.
"A" simply stands for altimeter and "3016" means 30.16 inches of mercury for the pressure.
"RMK" stands for remarks, AO2 means the site is automated AND has a precipitation sensor, AO1 means the site does not have a precipitation sensor.