discuss skies coverage (fraction the cloud cover) and interpret it on a terminal modelapply the conventional convention because that expressing wind direction in meteorology, as well as interpret wind direction ~ above a terminal modelinterpret wind rate on a station model.

You are watching: What does a station model represent


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A sample that a station model with skies coverage, wind direction and speed, and also pressure data (which we"ll study more later) boxed in red.

We"re going to proceed tackling the information had in the terminal model, and also now we"re going to revolve our attention to cloud coverage and also wind direction and speed. I"ve outlined the part of the station version that consists of this information in the sample ~ above the right, however note that the station model also includes information around air pressure, i beg your pardon we"ll mostly ignore for now and also come back to later on. As I did v temperature, dew point, visibility, and also present weather, I"ll briefly describe each variable and also its common units of measure (if applicable), and then define how to translate it top top a terminal model. Let"s begin with sky coverage:

Sky Coverage: sky coverage simply defines the section of the sky covered through clouds. Let me begin with the period old question: "Which phrase execute you think defines a cloudier sky? partly sunny or partly cloudy?" The nationwide Weather organization defines partially sunny and also partly cloudy as essentially the same, v the caveat that we wouldn"t use "partly sunny" in ~ night, that course. But, in practice, part forecasters use these terms differently due to the fact that the native "partly" is somewhat vague, therefore it"s not clear cut. Some folks usage "partly sunny" come emphasize that there will certainly be a bit an ext clouds 보다 sun, and use "partly cloudy" to emphasize that there will be a bit much more sun 보다 clouds. Through this usage, a partially sunny job is actually cloudier than a partly cloudy day.

Most weather forecasters don"t want to get attracted into together an argument of semantics, so when it pertains to quantifying the coverage of the sky by clouds, they count on a details "pie-chart" mechanism that leaves little room for controversy (see table below). The "pie" that makes up the skies coverage observation is separated into 8 sections. Clear conditions (0/8 cloud coverage) constitute a perfectly clear sky, if a "few" clouds (1/8 to 2/8 coverage) represent mainly sunny conditions. "Scattered" clouds (3/8 to 4/8 cloud coverage) correspond to a partially cloudy or partially sunny sky, through "broken" clouds (5/8 to 7/8 cloud coverage) explicate a partly cloudy or partially sunny (5/8 coverage) to mainly cloudy (6/8 to 7/8 coverage) sky. When the skies is almost overcast except for a couple of breaks, forecasters refer to the cloud coverage together breaks in the overcast (abbreviated as "BINOVC"). Picturing "overcast" problems (8/8 coverage) is straightforward. Once the skies is broken or overcast, weather monitorings will encompass the equivalent cloud ceiling, i beg your pardon is just the height of the base of a damaged or overcast great of clouds. Cloud ceiling is not contained in the terminal model, yet it is specifically important for aircraft pilots.

Official skies coverage category (and spring coverage measures) matches plain-language sky descriptions.Official skies Cover CategoriesFractional CoveragePlain-Language Descriptions
CLEAR0/8Sunny (or clear)
FEW1/8 - 2/8Mostly Sunny
SCATTERED3/8 - 4/8Partly Cloudy or partly Sunny
BROKEN5/8 - 7/8Partly Cloudy or partially Sunny (5/8) to mostly Cloudy (6/8 or 7/8)
OVERCAST8/8Cloudy (or overcast)
SKY OBSCURED(no fraction)The weather observer can"t recognize the coverage or ceilings that clouds since low-level fog, haze, or exhilaration obscures the sky.

Interpreting skies coverage on the station design is relatively intuitive, as the circle in the station model serves as the "pie chart" that shows the cloud coverage. The higher the cloud coverage the exists, typically the bigger the section of the circle the is to fill in. In the sample terminal model listed below on the right, the one is largely filled in, corresponding to a "mostly cloudy" sky with 6/8 cloud coverage.


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A sample station model with skies coverage labeled. In this case, the skies was mostly cloudy through 6/8 cloud coverage.

I should include that ~ above occasion, the skies cover can not be seen due to a low-level obstruction such as hefty fog, hefty rain, blowing snow, etc. In such instances when the observer cannot identify the sky coverage, the condition "sky obscured" is reported. The station model is thus significant with an "X" in the skies cover circle come designate the an obstruction avoids the weather observer from observing the rest of the sky. Also if the observer is reasonably confident the the skies is overcast, if the ceiling can not be observed, "sky obscured" would still it is in reported. Also, when sky obscured conditions exist and vertical visibility is very low, you"ll sometimes see referrals to an indefinite ceiling. This simply way that the surface obscuration (such as hefty fog, punch snow, etc.) has minimal vertical visibility come the point that the cloud ceiling can"t be determined.

Wind Direction: Wind is the horizontal activity of the air, and one the the most an essential rules that you need to understand is that the direction the the wind is always expressed together the direction indigenous which the wind blows and also NOT the direction towards which the wind blows. Make sure to commit that to memory! So, if the wind blows from the north, because that example, you"ll hear a meteorologist say the the wind is "northerly" (or there"s a "north" wind), not a "southerly" or "south" wind. Meteorologists are constantly interested in whereby the wait is coming from because it can aid with weather forecasting. For example, if a wind is blowing native a an ar of heat air towards a region of colder air, a weather forecaster would want to recognize that!

So, wind direction is always the direction from i beg your pardon the wind is blowing. Fairly than brand the wind v a general direction such as "north" or "southeast," weather forecasters consistently use standard compass angles to fine-tune the wind direction. Because that sake of illustration, the wind direction indigenous the north blows from a direction that 0 degrees. A wind the blows indigenous the east is a 90-degree wind, while a wind direction the 70 degrees synchronizes to a wind the blows indigenous the east-northeast.


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A sample station design with the wind direction flag labeled. In this case, winds were blowing indigenous the southeast (or much more precisely, 150 degrees).

On a station model, the thin-solid line (often referred to as the "flag") extending outward from the skies coverage symbol in the direction that the wind is blow from. In the example on the right, I"ve emphasize the wind "flag." have the right to you phone call what the wind direction is ~ above this station model? Remembering the wind direction is the direction that the wind is blowing from, it"s apparent that the wind is blowing indigenous the south-east (so we would say that we have actually a "southeast" wind, or "winds are southeasterly"). Much more precisely, we could say that winds to be 150 levels (you might want to refer to the image of typical compass angles to confirm).

Wind Speed: Wind rate is merely how quick the wait is moving. You may hear referrals to "sustained" wind speeds, which room wind speeds average over a particular time duration (usually 1 or 2 minutes), however the wind is periodically unsteady, v brief, sudden increases in wind speed dubbed gusts. As a general rule, gusts last much less than 20 seconds. Weather observers typically only report gusts when the wind different by better than 10 knots (between the peaks and lulls). However, report wind gusts usually perform not appear on station models.

In the unified States, we usually talk about wind speed in miles per hour (just like car speed limits), yet on terminal models, wind rate is always expressed in devices of knots (nautical miles per hour). Because that the record, 1 node = 1.15 miles per hour. On station models, the speed of the wind is expressed as a collection of notches, called "wind barbs" ~ above the clockwise next of the heat representing wind direction. Each longer wind barb counts together a tally that 10 knots (actually, each longer barb represents a speed of 8 come 12 knots, but weather forecasters operationally select the middle value the 10 knots for simplicity). The much shorter barbs count as a tally of 5 knots. So, to number out the wind speed, you need to include the values associated with any kind of long and also short wind barbs present.


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A sample that a station model with wind rate labeled. In this case, one long wind barb (10 knots) and one short wind barb (5 knots) totals a wind rate of 15 knots (17 miles every hour).

In the sample station version on the right, there"s one long barb (10 knots) and also one quick barb (5 knots), for this reason we include 10 knots and 5 knots together to acquire our wind speed of 15 knots (which converts to 17 miles every hour). If the surface ar wind is "calm," then it has actually neither direction no one speed. In this case, a larger circle is drawn roughly the circle that represents skies coverage. To view an example, inspect out the 1828Z map of terminal models over a part of the western United claims on might 16, 2017. The 2 stations I"ve highlighted (Havre and Glasgow, Montana) to be both reporting calm winds.

On the various other hand, because that very strong winds, a "triangular" barb counts as a tally that 50 knots.The use of the 50 knot symbol doesn"t occur at the surface an extremely often in many locations, however, due to the fact that sustained winds rarely reach together speeds. That course, wind gusts that 50 knots take place a little an ext frequently (severe thunderstorms, strong cold fronts, etc.). You"re much more likely to observe a continual 50-knot wind close to the Atlantic and also Gulf coastlines with a hurricane nearby, such together the continual 50-knot wind at Cape Hatteras, phibìc Carolina, early August 27, 2011 together Hurricane Irene approached.

Finally, ns should easily note that i haven"t extended a pair of components of the terminal model handling air pressure. The remaining details to the appropriate of the skies coverage circle to represent sea-level push in millibars (upper right) and sea-level pressure propensity (the adjust over the previous three hours). Sea-level press is the air pressure (the pressure per unit area exerted by waiting molecules) that would be exerted in ~ sea level. We"ll speak much an ext about the relevance of air pressure later on in the course, and also cover exactly how to decode the pressure information from a station model, too. So, for now, don"t worry about the pressure information on the station model.

Before you relocate on, be certain to invest some time top top the Key Skill and also Quiz Yourself part below. They"ll aid you end up being familiar with interpreting sky coverage and also wind direction / speed on a terminal model. Make certain you"re comfortable v interpreting this variables ~ above a terminal model prior to you relocate on!


Key Skill...

On this page, girlfriend learned around sky coverage, wind direction, and also wind speed on the station model. The interaction station model below permits you to readjust these variables and see exactly how the station design will look. I particularly recommend entering various sky coverages, wind directions, and speeds (all the method from patience to speeds greater than 50 knots) in the "Current Conditions" panel.


I"ve also created a short video (3:20) the walks with a translation of all the variables we"ve covered so much in the terminal model, with focus on wind direction and speed. Examine it out!


You should be able to interpret most of the info from a station model, and also our interaction station version tool will aid you learn how to carry out that. I"m going come decode the components of the station design that we"ve talked about so far, and also explore wind direction and speed a bit an ext since they often tend to it is in a bit more challenging.

For starters, in ~ this station, the current temperature is 32 degrees Fahrneheit (temperature is the number in the upper-left the the station model). The dew point is in the lower left, therefore the dew suggest here is 30 levels Fahrenheit.

The visibility is end on the much left here, and it"s 2 miles in this case, since of irradiate snow, as suggested by the 2 small snowflake icons. The skies is fully overcast, as shown by the fact that this one is totally filled in.

Of course, this tool is completely interactive, so us can readjust the weather conditions. We can change the temperature, the dew point, the visibility, and also the current weather. So, currently our temperature is 85 levels Fahrenheit, our dew suggest is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and also our visibility is a half mile in a thunderstorm, and also we can see the changes on the terminal model.

I desire to invest a small time specifically on wind direction and speed so that you get used come the conventions because that those variables. First, the tool defaults come a wind from 180 degrees. It"s necessary to mental in meteorology that wind is expressed together the direction that the wind is punch from.

If we assume that north is at the peak of the image, southern is at the bottom, west is ~ above the left, and also east is on the right, we can see that this 180-degree wind is blowing indigenous the southern to the north. We would contact this a southern wind, or a southerly wind.

We can adjust the wind direction to, say, 50 degrees. Currently we have actually winds native the northeast to the southwest, and also that"s what it would look favor on the terminal model. We would call this a northeast wind, or a northeasterly wind.

We can also tell wind speed from the terminal model. The speed right here is 25 knots, as shown by the two long wind barbs and the one brief wind barb. Each long wind barb represents 10 knots, and the brief wind barb to represent 5 knots. For this reason we amount those together, and we gain a complete of 25 knots.

If we had calm winds, we would certainly just have actually an extra circle around the skies coverage due to the fact that the wind doesn"t have a direction. Or, top top the other hand, we might make it yes, really windy, and also have 65-knot sustained winds –say perhaps a hurricane is making landfall nearby. The pennant, or triangular barb, represents 50 knots, the lengthy barb represents 10 knots, and the brief barb represents 5 knots. Add those together, 50 + 10 + 5, to get our full of 65 knots.

I yes, really encourage girlfriend to check out this tool. Trying out different conditions and also seeing exactly how the station model looks will help you obtain a feeling for just how to decode the terminal model.

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Quiz Yourself...

Think you have a great handle top top wind speed and also direction top top a station model? take this self-quiz below to see how you do. Begin by hitting the "Quiz me" button. Fill in the missing wind direction and speed, and then struggle "Submit" to inspect your answer. Wind direction deserve to be rounded to the nearest 10 degrees and wind speed is to the nearest 5 knots. You may also turn on some directional hint currently if you have trouble estimating angles. If you"ve master wind direction and also speed ~ above the terminal model, you should have the ability to get the ideal answer just about every time!