Surface Weather Plot Symbols




Cloud Symbol Priority

Highest to Lowest Priority (left to right)
High-level clouds H9 cloud symbol
H9
H7 cloud symbol
H7
H8 cloud symbol
H8
H6 cloud symbol
H6
H5 cloud symbol
H5
H4 cloud symbol
H4
H3 cloud symbol
H3
H2 cloud symbol
H2
H1 cloud symbol
H1
Mid-level clouds M9 cloud symbol
M9
M8 cloud symbol
M8
M7 cloud symbol
M7
M6 cloud symbol
M6
M5 cloud symbol
M5
M4 cloud symbol
M4
M3 cloud symbol
M3
M2 cloud symbol
M2
M1 cloud symbol
M1
Low-level clouds L9 cloud symbol
L9
L3 cloud symbol
L3
L4 cloud symbol
L4
L8 cloud symbol
L8
L2 cloud symbol
L2
L1 cloud symbol
L1
L5 cloud symbol
L5
L6 cloud symbol
L6
L7 cloud symbol
L7

Often, more than one cloud type occurs in each level (low, middle, or high) in the atmosphere. However, since only one cloud type is indicated for each level, the cloud that is coded is based upon a priority list of the most predominate cloud for each particular level.

At right is a list of priority and symbol for each cloud type. Hold mouse over symbols to reveal cloud type name.

How is this list used? If more than one cloud type exits for any given level, the cloud with the highest priority is plotted. For example, an observer might see a cumulonimbus (L9) and stratocumulus (L5) at the same time. In the list of priorities, only the cumulonimbus (L9) will be plotted. What types of clouds are represented by these symbols?


Present Weather Symbols

Following are the 99 present weather symbols used in meteorology. They are divided into groups as indicated below.

Codes 00-09 General Group: No precipitation, fog, dust storm, sandstorm, drifting or blowing snow at the station at the time of observation or, except for 09 during the preceding hour.
00 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Present weather symbol 00
Cloud development NOT observed or NOT observable during past hour (not plotted)
Present weather symbol 01
Clouds generally dissolving or becoming less developed during past hour (not plotted)
Present weather symbol 02
State of sky on the whole unchanged during past hour (not plotted)
Present weather symbol 03
Clouds generally forming or developing during past hour (not plotted)
Present weather symbol 04
Visibility reduced by smoke
Present weather symbol 05
Haze
Present weather symbol 06
Widespread dust in suspension in the air, not raised by wind at or near the station at the time of observation
Present weather symbol 07
Dust or sand raised by the wind at or near the station at the time of the observation, but no well-developed dust whirl(s), and no sandstorm seen: or, in the case of ships, blowing spray at the station
Present weather symbol 08
Well developed dust whirl(s) or sand whirl(s) seen at or near the station during the preceding hour or at the time of observation, but no dust storm or sandstorm
Present weather symbol 09
Dust storm or sandstorm within sight at the time of observation, or at the station during the preceding hour



Codes 10-19 General Group: No precipitation at the station at the time of observation or, except 17, during the preceding hour.
10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
Present weather symbol 10
Mist
Present weather symbol 11
Patches of shallow fog at station, NOT deeper than 6 feet on land
Present weather symbol 12
More or less continuous shallow fog at station, NOT deeper than 6 feet on land
Present weather symbol 13
Lighting visible, no thunder heard
Present weather symbol 14
Precipitation within sight, but NOT reaching the ground
Present weather symbol 15
Precipitation within sight, reaching ground or the surface of the sea, but distant, i.e. estimated to be more than 3 miles from the station
Present weather symbol 16
Precipitation within sight, reaching the ground or the surface of the sea, near to (within 3 miles), but not at the station
Present weather symbol 17
Thunder heard, but no precipitation at the station
Present weather symbol 18
Squall(s) within sight during past hour
Present weather symbol 19
Funnel cloud(s) / Tornado(s) during the preceding hour or at time of observation



Codes 20-29 General Group: Precipitation, fog, ice fog, or thunderstorm at the station during the preceding hour but not at the time of observation.
20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Present weather symbol 20
Drizzle (not freezing) or snow grains not falling as shower(s) ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 21
Rain (not freezing) not falling as shower(s) ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 22
Snow not falling as shower(s) ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 23
Rain and snow or ice pellets not falling as shower(s) ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 24
Freezing drizzle or freezing rain not falling as shower(s) ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 25
Shower(s) of rain ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 26
Shower(s) of snow, or of rain and snow ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 27
Shower(s) of hail, or of rain and hail ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 28
Fog or ice fog ended in the past hour
Present weather symbol 29
Thunderstorm (with or without precipitation) ended in the past hour



Codes 30-39 General Group: Dust storm, sandstorm, drifting or blowing snow.
30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39
Present weather symbol 30
Slight or moderate dust storm or sandstorm (has decreased during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 31
Slight or moderate dust storm or sandstorm (no appreciable change during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 32
Slight or moderate dust storm or sandstorm (has begun or increased during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 33
Severe dust storm or sandstorm has decreased during the preceding hour
Present weather symbol 34
Severe dust storm or sandstorm has no appreciable change during the preceding hour
Present weather symbol 35
Severe dust storm or sandstorm has begun or increased during the preceding hour
Present weather symbol 36
Slight or moderate drifting snow (generally below eye level)
Present weather symbol 37
Heavy drifting snow (generally below eye level)
Present weather symbol 38
Slight or moderate blowing snow (generally above eye level)
Present weather symbol 39
Heavy blowing snow (generally above eye level)



Codes 40-49 General Group: Fog at the time of observation.
40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
Present weather symbol 40
Fog at a distance at the time of observation, but not at the station during the preceding hour, the fog or ice fog extending to a level above that of the observer
Present weather symbol 41
Fog in patches
Present weather symbol 42
Fog sky visible (has become thinner during preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 43
Fog sky obscured (has become thinner during preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 44
Fog sky visible (no appreciable change during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 45
Fog sky obscured (no appreciable change during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 46
Fog sky visible (has begun or has become thicker during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 47
Fog sky obscured (has begun or has become thicker during the preceding hour)
Present weather symbol 48
Fog, depositing rime ice, sky visible
Present weather symbol 49
Fog, depositing rime ice, or ice fog, sky obscured



Codes 50-59 General Group: Drizzle.
50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59
Present weather symbol 50
Drizzle, not freezing, intermittent (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 51
Drizzle, not freezing, continuous (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 52
Drizzle, not freezing, intermittent (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 53
Drizzle, not freezing, continuous (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 54
Drizzle, not freezing, intermittent (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 55
Drizzle, not freezing, continuous (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 56
Drizzle, freezing, slight
Present weather symbol 57
Drizzle, freezing, moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 58
Drizzle and rain, slight
Present weather symbol 59
Drizzle and rain, moderate or heavy



Codes 60-69 General Group: Rain.
60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69
Present weather symbol 60
Rain, not freezing, intermittent (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 61
Rain, not freezing, continuous (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 62
Rain, not freezing, intermittent (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 63
Rain, not freezing, continuous (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 64
Rain, not freezing, intermittent (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 65
Rain, not freezing, continuous (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 66
Rain, freezing, slight
Present weather symbol 67
Rain, freezing, moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 68
Rain or drizzle and snow, slight
Present weather symbol 69
Rain or drizzle and snow, moderate or heavy



Codes 70-79 General Group: Solid precipitation not in showers.
70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79
Present weather symbol 70
Intermittent fall of snowflakes (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 71
Continuous fall of snowflakes (slight at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 72
Intermittent fall of snowflakes (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 73
Continuous fall of snowflakes (moderate at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 74
Intermittent fall of snowflakes (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 75
Continuous fall of snowflakes (heavy at time of observation)
Present weather symbol 76
Ice needles (with or without fog)
Present weather symbol 77
Snow grains (with or without fog)
Present weather symbol 78
Isolated star-like snow crystals (with or without fog)
Present weather symbol 79
Ice pellets (sleet)



Codes 80-99 General Group: Showery precipitation, or precipitation with current or recent thunderstorm.
80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89
Present weather symbol 80
Rain shower(s), slight
Present weather symbol 81
Rain shower(s), moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 82
Rain shower(s), violent
Present weather symbol 83
Shower(s) of rain and snow mixed, slight
Present weather symbol 84
Shower(s) of rain and snow mixed, moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 85
Snow shower(s), slight
Present weather symbol 86
Snow shower(s), moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 87
Shower(s) of snow pellets or small hail, slight with or without rain or rain and snow mixed
Present weather symbol 88
Shower(s) of snow pellets or small hail, moderate or heavy with or without rain or rain and snow mixed
Present weather symbol 89
Shower(s) of hail, with or without rain or rain and snow mixed, not associated with thunder, slight



90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99
Present weather symbol 90
Shower(s) of hail, with or without rain or rain and snow mixed, not associated with thunder, moderate or heavy
Present weather symbol 91
Thunderstorm during the pre- ceding hour but not at time of observation with slight rain at time of observation
Present weather symbol 92
Thunderstorm during the pre- ceding hour but not at time of observation with moderate or heavy rain at time of observation
Present weather symbol 93
Thunderstorm during the pre- ceding hour but not at time of observation with slight snow, or rain and snow mixed, or hail at time of observation
Present weather symbol 94
Thunderstorm during the pre- ceding hour but not at time of observation with moderate or heavy snow, or rain and snow mixed, or hail at time of observation
Present weather symbol 95
Thunderstorm, slight or moderate, without hail but with rain and or snow at time of observation
Present weather symbol 96
Thunderstorm, slight or moderate, with hail at time of observation
Present weather symbol 97
Thunderstorm, heavy, without hail but with rain and or snow at time of observation
Present weather symbol 98
Thunderstorm combined with dust storm or sandstorm at time of observation
Present weather symbol 99
Thunderstorm, heavy, with hail at time of observation

Sky Cover Symbols

These are the ten symbols that represent the total amount of sky cover at the time of the observation (reported in eigths).
Symbol for no clouds
No Clouds
Symbol for 1/8th skycover
1/8th
skycover
Symbol for 2/8th skycover
2/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 3/8th skycover
3/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 4/8th skycover
4/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 5/8th skycover
5/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 6/8th skycover
6/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 7/8th skycover
7/8ths
skycover
Symbol for 8/8th skycover
8/8ths
skycover (completely overcast)
Symbol for sky obscured
Sky Obscured
(used when a surface-based weather phenomena (i.e. fog, dust, etc.) blocks the view of the sky)

Pressure tendency symbols

  Code Symbol Description
Pressure higher
than three hours ago
0 Pressure tendency symbol 0 Rising, the falling
1 Pressure tendency symbol 1 Rising, then steady; or rising, then rising more slowly
2 Pressure tendency symbol 2 Rising steadily, or unsteadily
3 Pressure tendency symbol 3 Falling or steady, then rising; or rising, then rising more quickly
Pressure the same
as three hours ago
4 Pressure tendency symbol 4 Steady, same as 3 hours ago
Pressure lower
than three hours ago
5 Pressure tendency symbol 5 Falling, then rising, same or lower than 3 hours ago
6 Pressure tendency symbol 6 Falling, then steady; or falling, then falling more slowly
7 Pressure tendency symbol 7 Falling steadily, or unsteadily
8 Pressure tendency symbol 8 Steady or rising, then falling; or falling, then falling more quickly

These symbols show the pressure trend during the past three hours. It is useful for determining motion of front. For example, a typical pressure pattern for a cold front that has passed a station would be code 3, falling or steady, then rising; or rising, then rising more quickly.

The steady or falling pressure will be the change in pressure before the front passes over the location. After frontal passage, higher pressure moves over the station as indicated by the pressure rising more quickly.




Wind Speed & Direction

Wind speed. A combination of long/short barbs and pennants indicate the speed of the wind in station weather plots rounded to the nearest 5 knots. Calm wind is indicated by a large circle drawn around the skycover symbol.

One long barb is used to indicate each 10 knots with the short barb representing 5 knots. At 50 knots, the barbs changes to a pennant. For wind speeds higher than 50 knots, long and short barbs are used again in combination with the pennant(s). (See examples below.)

Observed
wind
speed
0-2 kts
(0-2 mph)
3-7 kts
(3-8 mph)
8-12 kts
(9-14 mph)
13-17 kts
(15-20 mph)
18-22 kts
(21-25 mph)
23-27 kts
(26-31 mph)
28-32 kts
(32-37 mph)
33-37 kts
(38-43 mph)
48-52 kts
(55-60 mph)
53-57 kts
(61-66 mph)
58-62 kts
(67-71 mph)
63-67 kts
(73-77 mph)
98-102 kts
(113-117 mph)
102-107 kts
(119-123 mph)
Rounded
to the
nearest 5
0 kts 5 kts 10 kts 15 kts 20 kts 25 kts 30 kts 35 kts 50 kts 55 kts 60 kts 65 kts 100 kts 105 kts
Plotted as 0 knot wind plot 5 knot wind plot 10 knot wind plot 15 knot wind plot 20 knot wind plot 25 knots wind plot 30 knots wind plot 35 knots wind plot 50 knots wind plot 55 knots wind plot 60 knots wind plot 65 knots wind plot 100 knots wind plot 105 knots wind plot

Wind FROM 340°
(NNW)
Wind FROM 040°
(NE)
Wind FROM 190°
(S)
The wind direction is indicated by the long shaft. The shaft will point to the direction FROM which the wind is blowing. The direction is based upon a 36-point compass.



Past Weather Symbols


These symbols represent the most significant weather within the past six hours of the observation but not during the most recent hour.
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
No past weather symbol
Clear or Few Clouds (not plotted)
No past weather symbol
Partly cloudy (scattered) or variable sky (not plotted)
No past weather symbol
Cloudy (broken) or overcast (not plotted)
Past weather symbol 3
Sandstorm or dust storm, or drifting or blowing snow
Past weather symbol 4
Fog, or smoke, or thick dust haze
Past weather symbol 5
Drizzle
Past weather symbol 6
Rain
Past weather symbol 7
Snow, or rain and snow mixed, or ice pellets (sleet)
Past weather symbol 8
Shower(s)
Past weather symbol 9
Thunderstorm, with or without precipitation

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