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Christmas Giveaway 2023: Question 2 - TAF & METAR


As students and pilots, we are always decoding the TAF and METAR to get the most up-to-date weather information. Here's a METAR from Cornwall Airport Newquay, but can you tell us what the 'PO' code stands for?

METAR EGHQ 121320Z 14006KT 080V190 9999 PO NSC 31/11 Q1017


  1. Precipitation Overhead
  2. Dust Devil
  3. Fog Banks
  4. Patches of Rain


Learning to read TAFs and METARs takes practice, and even the most experienced pilots will occasionally come across a code that you just have to look up, as we did back in 2022 when our METAR reported 'PO'. This turned out to be a Dust Devil, a phenomenon which causes an upward spiralling, dust-filled vortex of air that may vary in height from a few feet to over 1,000ft. They are usually several metres in diameter at the base, then narrowing for a short distance before expanding again. This is unusual in the UK, but after an exceptional period of very hot and dry summer weather, a few were spotted at Cornwall Airport Newquay that week, drawn up from the dry surrounding fields!

If you are still learning or would like to brush up on your TAF and METAR interpretation skills, then some excellent resources are available online to help you learn. The Met Office GetMet document is handy, providing an overview of the resources available to you as a pilot and how to best use them. The Met Office also have a great section on their website for pilots, full of useful weather information and guides, and the CAA Skyway Code provides some great weather summaries for pilots. We’ve provided links to these and others in the additional resources section.

Of course, the best way to learn is to practice! So, we always recommend checking the weather regularly using the Met Office Aviation Briefing Service, which is free for non-commercial pilots. Plus, most sources offer a decoding service, which is a fantastic way to learn and test your knowledge!

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