Weird remarks in METARS

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jonathan_tcu
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Weird remarks in METARS

#1 Post by jonathan_tcu » Sun Jan 08, 2006 6:54 am

Here is one from the Chapleau Ontario airport this morning:

METAR CYLD 081300Z 00000KT 15SM -SN OVC007 M11/M12 A2984 RMK SC8 FG
BNK E STOPWATCH AT STATION O/S SLP138=
SPECI CYLD 081332Z 11002KT 6SM BR OVC005 RMK SC8 FG BNK N-E VIS 1/2
STOP WATCH AT STATION O/S=


Does anyone know about this stop watch being out of service? I've never seen anything like this before. :?:
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Re: Weird remarks in METARS

#2 Post by grimey » Sun Jan 08, 2006 8:19 am

jonathan_tcu wrote:Here is one from the Chapleau Ontario airport this morning:

METAR CYLD 081300Z 00000KT 15SM -SN OVC007 M11/M12 A2984 RMK SC8 FG
BNK E STOPWATCH AT STATION O/S SLP138=
SPECI CYLD 081332Z 11002KT 6SM BR OVC005 RMK SC8 FG BNK N-E VIS 1/2
STOP WATCH AT STATION O/S=


Does anyone know about this stop watch being out of service? I've never seen anything like this before. :?:
Low ceilings are measured with a helium baloon which rises at ~460 ft/min and is timed with a stopwatch. The observer is probably just trying to say that the ceiling might not be very accurate.
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#3 Post by petite » Sun Jan 08, 2006 10:47 am

I remember being told about one in ground school years ago. This is a favourite story of this particular instructor.The METAR was really late, two hours late. Eventually the METAR came out and had the remarks at the end : OPS DELAYED WOLVERINE. This happened in the Ottawa/Eastern Ontario area in the mid 90's. As the story goes, the FSS went out for a reading or something in just jeans and a t-shirt, came back to his little shack and there was a wolverine right in front of his door, pacing back and forth. The guy hides behind a snowbank and tries to throw snow balls to get the animal away from the door so he can get back in. Took almost two hours and the guy nearly froze.
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Other delayed obs remarks

#4 Post by jonathan_tcu » Mon Jan 16, 2006 12:16 pm

Wolverines huh? Interesting. :o

I've seen some stations near Lake Superior who reported, observations delayed due to operational / job duties.

I also see remarks where observations are filed more than 5 + min past the hour or early to the hour of minus 5 or 10 min's.

Plus, what about observations where the remark is Via XXX FIC or FSS? I notice sometimes Kapuskasing CYYU will send their observations to Sudbury (CYSB). I assume the electronic format failed and the FSS guy faxed it, right?
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Re: Other delayed obs remarks

#5 Post by grimey » Mon Jan 16, 2006 2:51 pm

jonathan_tcu wrote:Wolverines huh? Interesting. :o

I've seen some stations near Lake Superior who reported, observations delayed due to operational / job duties.

I also see remarks where observations are filed more than 5 + min past the hour or early to the hour of minus 5 or 10 min's.

Plus, what about observations where the remark is Via XXX FIC or FSS? I notice sometimes Kapuskasing CYYU will send their observations to Sudbury (CYSB). I assume the electronic format failed and the FSS guy faxed it, right?
They're obs that were entered by another station, on the first station's behalf, for one reason or another (severed phone line, network error, computer crash, user error if it's fssguy ;), etc ). The "OBS TAKEN" remark is so that the met guys know when the barometer was read, if it wasn't done on the hour.
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#6 Post by FSS » Mon Jan 16, 2006 4:23 pm

Back in ought 60s March, Coral Harbour, real duster, two of us crawled over the snow banks along a rope to the Aeradio to relieve the two blokes on mids, all went back to the main building. Got call from buddie who said he ain't gonna try coming over in this stuff, so was alone. Time for wx obs and thought, try to find the Stevenson Screen to read temps and it's zero vis and there ain't no one here to know if I don't come back, so made executive decision to stay inside. Put in wx obs remarks "unable temps due wind". That apparently made the news down south as got letter from Mother asking who the chicken was that wouldn't go out in the storm. Worked a DEW resupply line flight that day who reported blowing snow at 2T. They flew DC4s. Our wind indicator was a flashing light indicator which you counted the light flashes in one minute to determine the wind velocity. It was on solid, so extimated the wind at 70 mph. Drifts were over the building's roofs.
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Snowfall accumulation

#7 Post by jonathan_tcu » Mon Jan 30, 2006 7:11 am

METAR CYTS 301400Z 05010KT 2SM -SN DRSN FEW015 OVC040 M09/M11 A2956
RMK SF2SC6 /S01/ SLP032=

Notice the S zero one there? On the ATIS, the guy at the FSS stated "Remarks, one centimeter of snow accumulated sinze one-two zero zero zulu (7 a.m. local time). Just from an FSS point of view, what criteria is used to report any accumulation in Metars and/or on the ATIS? I assumed was any report 4 times every 6 hours for a 24 hr period.
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#8 Post by hydro » Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:03 pm

For the METAR, anytime 1 cm or more of snow (also 10 mm of rain /R ) has accumulated since the last synoptic hour (6, 12, 18, 00z). In a large snowfall you could have /S01/ at 13z.. /S03/ at 14z etc up until 18z. Then the number gets reset.
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#9 Post by grimey » Tue Jan 31, 2006 1:05 am

Basically it means FSS is having a crappy day, because they're having to run outside in that stuff every 10 minutes to do a SPECI. And yea, what hydro said. You used to be able to download a copy of the manual we use for weather obs, but someone had it removed:

http://www.msc-smc.ec.gc.ca/msb/manuals_e.cfm
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#10 Post by mculshaw » Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:27 pm

anytime I see an odd remark I call up FSS and ask the briefer what they think it is. Usually they take a poll from everyone and come up with something.

Interesting one I found out of Waterloo - CYKF was

RMK BLN DSPRD 400AGL

Supposedly the helium balloon that they used disappeared at 400 AGL
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#11 Post by grimey » Tue Jan 31, 2006 4:46 pm

mculshaw wrote:anytime I see an odd remark I call up FSS and ask the briefer what they think it is. Usually they take a poll from everyone and come up with something.

Interesting one I found out of Waterloo - CYKF was

RMK BLN DSPRD 400AGL

Supposedly the helium balloon that they used disappeared at 400 AGL
Yea. When we're calling a cloud layer, we have to call it's base (and therefore the cieling if it's a broken or overcast layer) where the cloud starts, not where you lose ground contact after you enter it. So the specialist working may have observed the ceiling balloon entering cloud at 200ft, but still had it in sight for another 200 after that. That's also why when you give a PIREP for when you lose ground contact, we don't always call a ceiling at that level, it'll quite often be below it.
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#12 Post by lexx » Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:13 am

mculshaw wrote:Interesting one I found out of Waterloo - CYKF was

RMK BLN DSPRD 400AGL

Supposedly the helium balloon that they used disappeared at 400 AGL
Weird. There is no operator at Waterloo to release a balloon. Just the AWOS ceilometer working. Maybe AWOS can now blow up its own balloons and watch with a camera :lol:
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#13 Post by grimey » Wed Feb 01, 2006 3:52 pm

Has CYKF ever had a CWO or FSS? Maybe he's talking about something from a few years back.
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#14 Post by mculshaw » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:40 pm

The balloon event occurred about 6-7 years back.
At the time they did have a human observer.

Although it would look kinda cool to see a robot arm let go a balloon as part of the AWOS :)
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#15 Post by jonathan_tcu » Wed Feb 01, 2006 5:44 pm

Here's a bit of a poll like question. We know AWOS's tend to have a mind of their own. I've seen PIREPS from aircraft in Moosonee Ontario who reported wide open VFR conditions, where saw snow removal blows snow over the AWOS and reports it as light snow or blowing snow. With this being said, if an FSS like what Sarnia was like, closes at 2 pm for last manned obs, is it more reliable to have an AWOS with occasional inaccurate obs or a manned observation until a certain time of last manned obs? :?:
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#16 Post by grimey » Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:10 pm

IMO, it's better to have the limited manned obs, but it'd be much better to either have an AWOS overnight, or a full time observer to fill in the time. Without obs of some sort, TAFs can't be provided (you need 3 hours of METARs for a TAF). Pireps can influence the METARs, and possibly the TAFs, but TAFs can't be based off of them. With a manned station during the day, TAFs can be provided based off of accurate obs, for when the airport is in heavy use. There's still the possiblity that the TAF may be inaccurate due to not having many other observing stations in the vicinity, or having odd local phenomena that don't fit into the forcasting model, but it's still usually better than having a TAF based off of an ob that's questionable. And if there's an observer at the airport, they can call the weather office if the TAF doesn't agree with observed conditions and have it updated. It depends how often the airport is used as an alternate too, I suppose.
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#17 Post by jonathan_tcu » Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:17 pm

You're raising a darned good point. I've noticed, like today, CYTS TAF was for light snow to start at 20z and it actually started at 1841 z, which progressed to poor vis right at 22z. During the summer time, you can look at a radar and see nothing, or cells fading away. And the TAF could still suggest something significant like moderate or hvy t storms. I'm amazed that 24 hr FSS still are able to provide observations, vs larger cities with less traffic and no AWOS with no obs period. I myself feel a true benefit for pilots is constant wind and altimeter read outs. :)
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#18 Post by lexx » Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:12 am

grimey wrote:Has CYKF ever had a CWO or FSS? Maybe he's talking about something from a few years back.
YKF has never had an FSS operator, but certainly for years there was an Environment Canada weather observer. I'm just trying to remember if there was an observer in YKF when the switch was made to Metar from the other standard (you know, WOXOF and all that).

I know the last observer at YKF lived in the basement of the Tower when they were kicked out of their terminal building offices.

All this was during the transition to AWOS, and the funding for the wx observer was pulled.

I'm sure the Balloon remark must have been made during this period.
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#19 Post by jonathan_tcu » Fri Feb 03, 2006 6:50 pm

Here's a question. Local airports with or without an FSS, how does the staff still manage to file observations 24/7 even though there may not be any overnight flight? One example is CYYU (Kapuskasing) and I'm guessing CYGQ (Geraldton, though I don't know how their air traffic volume is) ?
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#20 Post by grimey » Fri Feb 03, 2006 7:06 pm

They either have an AWOS or certified weather observer, or there's no official weather.
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#21 Post by FREEFALL » Sun Feb 12, 2006 2:26 pm

I'm guessing coffee and cigarettes.
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#22 Post by bigfssguy » Wed Feb 15, 2006 4:09 pm

No freefall thats how YOU stay awake to do weather obs on a midnight shift.....among other things i'm sure????????
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#23 Post by jonathan_tcu » Mon Feb 27, 2006 9:04 am

I should make that question a little clearer. I should have worded it how it's happily possible to report weather during extensive periods of no traffic whatsoever. Or, if an airport only sees a few flights a day, how necessary it is to monitor weather 24/7. It's great for 24 hours public weather info, just thought about what it's like for a weather observer to report, let's say, continuously VFR clear sky weather over and over again lol.
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#24 Post by ronjeremy » Mon Feb 27, 2006 4:09 pm

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