Understanding and Decoding TAF


What is a TAF ?


TAF is an abbreviation for Terminal Aerodrome Forecast. It is a detailed weather prediction at and around the airport. The major difference between a TAF and a METAR is that TAF gives the weather information of the airport and area around the airport however, a METAR gives weather information for the region only above the airport. TAFs are issued at all the airports and are valid for around 24 hours. TAFs are issued at the following times:

00:00UTC
06:00UTC
12:00UTC
18:00UTC

Validity of TAF depends upon many factors, therefore they not only last 24 hours, they can even last for 30 hours or even a few hours from the release.


Decoding of TAF


TAFs are generally listed as following:

TYPE ABBREVIATION MEANING
From FRM A change in weather which is expected to happen at a set time.
Becoming BCMG A change in weather which is set happen somewhere between 2 times.
Temporary TEMPO The weather will change but not permanently. The change should last maximum for an hour.

Majority of the abbreviations used in a TAF are generally similar to a METAR. Check out the METAR Tutorial in order to learn them if you havenโ€™t yet.

For understanding better, letโ€™s consider an example:

TAF

  1. AMD PHNL 242023Z 2420/2524 06018G24KT 6SM SHRA BKN025:

Here AMD stands for Amended. This means that the TAF shown is an edited TAF of PHNL(Honolulu). It is followed by the issuing time and date of the TAF which is 24th of the month at 2023Z (8:23 PM Zulu). It is followed by the weather at the airport at the time of issue. It can be easily broken down using the METAR decoding abbreviations. Here SHRA means that there are showers at the airport.

  1. TEMPO 2420/2424 3SM RA BR BKN020 OVC030:

Referring to the table above, Tempo means temporary followed by the date and time. 2420/2424 means that the weather change will occur on 24th of the month from 2000Z to 2400Z. Followed by the weather in that period of time. Again it can be decoded using METAR abbreviations.

  1. FM250600 11015G25KT P6SM -SHRA SCT025 BKN035:

Again referring the table above, FM stands for From followed by the date and tie of change. This means that weather will definitely change on 25th of the month from 0600Z. It is followed by the changed weather description that can be decoded using METAR abbreviations.

  1. The last line is similar to the 3rd line.

IMPORTANT POINTS TO PONDER UPON


  1. All the time in a TAF are in Zulu. Make sure to change it to the suitable time zone of the airport you are seeking.

  2. In order to decode a TAF easily, make sure to be thorough with the decoding of METAR.

  3. Sometimes there might be an equal to sign (=) at the end of the report. It denoted the end of the TAF report.

  4. Some of the points edited by @Mags885 can be found here!. Check them out as they are really important!


I hope this tutorial has helped you. Dont forget to check out Tutorial on TAF by our expert, Mark Denton.


36 Likes

Nice one and a good banner too ๐Ÿ˜‚

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Thanks though ;)

Nice tutorial! Iโ€™m sure many new IFATC recruits and many more in general would like such a tutorial!

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Thanks mate! Hope this helps maximum people :)

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There is also a video by Captain Joe on how to understand the TAF.

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Great tutorial! Very informative, keep up the great work!

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Great tutorial! This will be very helpful

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Well done mate ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป this useful and great information, the banner is perfect๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿผ

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Thanks a lot @Navy315, @Mukundan_Srivatsa and @Sphinx

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Very nice, complements this thread nicely:

Good job!

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Nice and well done. Would have killed for a community like the IFC to reach out to when I was in school.

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Thanks a lot @A_Hippopotamus

Haha. Thanks mate @Skydriver900

I just use google weather lol

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Lol. Many people do the same but sometimes they are not accurate also metar and taf make flying more professional

Hey there @Raveesh,

Thanks for taking the time to put this together however there are some points which need rectifying for this to be a black and white tutorial;

These times are only for major airfields, military aerodromes tend to issue these more often, sometimes upto every 3 hours.

I will put together a list of decoders at the bottom of this post however SHRA is split into 2, this decodes to showers of rain and could be showers of something different such as SHSN - Snow showers.

There is never anything definite when judging weather. So, this METAR will be used when planning +/- 2hours of this time. Again that time is subject to the Captain and company SOP.

Almost Complete Decode List

Qualifiers of Intensity or Proximity

    • Light
  • Moderate (no qualifier)
    • Heavy or well-developed
  • VC in the Vicinity

Qualifier Descriptor

  • MI Shallow
  • BC Patches
  • DR Low Drifting
  • BL Blowing
  • SH Showers
  • TS Thunderstorm
  • FZ Freezing
  • PR Partial

Precipitation

  • DZ Drizzle
  • RA Rain
  • SN Snow
  • SG Snow Grains
  • IC Ice Crystals
  • PL Ice Pellets
  • GR Hail
  • GS Small Hail or Snow Pellets (less than 1/4 inch in diameter)
  • UP Unknown precipitation (automated stations only)

Obscuration

  • BR Mist ( Foggy conditions with visibilities greater than 5/8 statute mile)
  • FG Fog (visibility 5/8 statute mile or less)
  • FU Smoke
  • DU Dust
  • SA Sand
  • HZ Haze
  • PY Spray
  • VA Volcanic Ash

Other

  • PO Well-Developed Dust/Sand Whirls
  • SQ Squalls
  • FC Funnel Cloud
  • +FC Well-Developed Funnel Cloud, Tornado or Waterspout
  • SS Sandstorm
  • DS Duststorm

Best Wishes

Hey @Mags885,

Thanks a lot for these clarifications! I will add a quick link to your explanations on my post to make it clear ;)
Helps are always appreciated!

Regards,

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This topic will be helpful for those people who need it (including me!)

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