Introduction to Meteorological Charting

Introduction to Meteorological Charting

What is the importance of collecting weather observations simultaneously across the globe?

to provide a quality check and ensure rigor for observers by requiring them to be on duty at set times

to provide a snapshot view of conditions across large spatial scales so that major features and patterns can be discerned

to understand how a weather system is evolving so local conditions can be better predicted

Identify the main features that can be identified on a surface weather map.

areas where clouds or rain might be expected

wind direction

locations of high and low pressure centers

boundaries between warmer and cooler air

regions of strong surface heating creating updrafts

Correctly identify each of the symbols used to denote air mass boundaries on a surface analysis chart.

Use the selection box to choose the correct answer for each boundary type.

Example A        >        Occuluded front

Example B        >        Warm front

Example C        >        Stationary front

How is wind direction represented on a meteorological chart?

by streamlines, which are drawn orthogonally, or perpendicular, to the wind flow

by a wind barb, with the barb corresponding to the direction the wind is blowing from

by streamlines, which are drawn parallel to, or in the same direction as, the wind flow

by a wind barb, with the barb corresponding to the direction the wind is blowing toward

For each of the following symbols, select the appropriate wind speed and direction, and note in which hemisphere (Northern or Southern) the observation was taken.

Example A wind speed                   >            15 knots

Example A wind direction             >             NW

Example A hemisphere                >             Southern Hemisphere

Example B wind speed                  >             70 knots

Example B wind direction            >             SW

Example B hemisphere                 >             Northern Hemisphere

Example C wind speed                  >             55 knots

Example C wind direction            >             SE

Example C hemisphere                 >             Southern Hemisphere


Match each description to its correct observation type.

Reported every six hours, contains meteorological, climatological and sea condition information. (SYNOP)

Reported every hour, contains meteorological information for a location (METAR)

Reports monthly climatological data (CLIMAT)

Reported as needed, contains meteorological information for a location (SPECI)

Obtained once or twice per day at select locations, provides information about the atmosphere’s vertical structure (RAOB)

What are the main variables represented by meteorological station plots?

wind speed and direction

precipitation amount

cloud cover


present weather


Use the selection box to choose True or False for each of the following statements.

(TRUE) Upper air analyses provide a view of conditions and patterns at many levels of the atmosphere

(TRUE) Upper air data help forecasters deduce the associated vertical motions of the air             

(FALSE) Upper air data provide visualizations of the overturning that is happening in the atmosphere to be able to predict conditions          

(TRUE) Upper air analyses help forecasters discern atmospheric features aloft, or at particular flight levels for aviation


What types of features can be observed on an upper air map?

Use the selection box to choose True or False for each feature.

troughs >> True

ridges >> True

dewpoint >> False

wind direction >> True

wind speed >> True

To determine the overall upper level flow and how that flow might be interacting with low level weather systems, which pressure level might forecasters find most useful?
A) mean sea level pressure
B) 200 mb
C) 500 mb
D) 300 mb
E) 850 mb

Select whether each of the following statements is True or False of a pressure surface.

Use the selection box to choose True or False for each statement.

(TRUE) The pressure is equal at every point on the surface.        

(FALSE) The pressure values are mapped to a constant elevation or altitude.     

(TRUE) The height of the pressure surface can vary.       

(TRUE) Lines on the pressure surface correspond to heights, typically reported in meters or decameters.

Correctly identify each of the features on the meteorological chart.

Feature 1                            >                             occluded front

Feature 2                            >                             stationary front

Feature 3                            >                             high pressure center

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