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METAR - term unknown


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1 hour ago, Moon The Loon said:

SPECI CYFC 051204Z AUTO 34006KT 1 3/4SM -SN OVC017 M12/M14 A2991 RMK VIS VRB 1-3 ICE SLP132=

What does "ICE" mean? Can't find the definition anywhere.

 

I believe this is a measurement of the thickness of ice on the indicator.  This part - 1-3 ICE is in the "remark section" - exact same place where you typically see FROIN.  In this case the "remarks" are visibility variable and ice to a thickness of 1-3 on the indicator.  This is also where you might see something like "CB ALQDS" (thunderstorms all quadrants) or "FQT LTGICCCCG"  (frequent lightning in cloud, cloud to cloud, cloud to ground)

The observation site has an "indicator." which is similar to a "representative surface".  Think of it like a rain gauge but for non-liquid precip.  The only thing I can't find is the units for the measurement - probably millimeters.

The code for ice pellets is "PL" and it would appear immediately following the visibility. 

In the above example -SN means "light snow."

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1 hour ago, conehead said:

Why are those things written in secret code? Why not in plain English?

It's to keep out the riff-raff.  You want to be in the club, you have to learn the secret language.

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2 hours ago, deicer said:

'ICE' refers to ice pellets.  

No holdover time for that, so you just have to wait until it stops.

 

 

There is no holdover time for ice pellets, but in Canada at least you can still operate.  It's a different mode of Type III and IV based on 'allowance times' where the fluid can keep the pellets suspended such that they slough when the fluid does.

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26 minutes ago, conehead said:

Thanks. I think it’s silly though, one shouldn’t require a decoder to understand critical information such as weather conditions. I’m serious.

There is an easy solution if the metar has been issued by Nav Canada.  You can chose a plain language version

AWWS - METAR / TAF Selection Page (navcanada.ca)

and for the US you can chose a decoded version:

AWC - METeorological Aerodrome Reports (METARs) (aviationweather.gov)

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1 hour ago, conehead said:

Thanks. I think it’s silly though, one shouldn’t require a decoder to understand critical information such as weather conditions. I’m serious.

Pilots learn to understand the shorthand.  It's not really that hard once you do it a few times - the format is always the same.

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7 hours ago, deicer said:

'ICE' refers to ice pellets.  

No holdover time for that, so you just have to wait until it stops.

 

 

I don't believe it refers to ice pellets as that notation would be in the clouds and weather section, not the remarks. Even the decoder referred to by Kargokings above doesn't elaborate:

ICE

 

 

Not decoded!

So the mystery remains...  Perhaps, as Seeker suggests, it replaces the term FROIN (Frost On the Indicaator).

 

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48 minutes ago, Moon The Loon said:

Perfect Vsplat - mystery solved! I remember seeing that AIC but forgot about it. One falls behind very quickly when every day is Saturday ("Retired)!

Nope, I do not think this solves your "mystery".  Sure, the abbreviation was changed from ICG to ICE but this appears to be only for SIGMETs, AIRMETs and TAFs - read it again.  In the METAR that initiated this thread the term ICE appears in the RMK (remarks) section and appears to be describing a "thickness" with the "1-3".  I stand by my interpretation.

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According to the MET section of the AIM, Table 8-3 part of article 8.5.4 read:

Currently, remarks are limited. When visibility is variable, the remark VIS VRB followed by the limits will appear, e.g. VIS VRB 1-2. When icing is detected, ICG, ICG INTMT or ICG PAST HR will appear. Remarks on precipitation amount, rapid changes in pressure and the location of lightning may also appear.

We also know that it ICG has been changed to ICE according to the AIC.

So the RMK sections speaks of variable visibility of 1 - 3 SM and a mention that icing was detected.

Voilà! 🙂

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