METEOROLOGY FLIGHT PLANNING
SURFACE ANALYSIS CHARTS
Weather forecasting, to a great extent, is dependent on weather charts showing the weather, its
development, and movement from place to place. Regular scheduled observations (METAR) are
taken throughout the world at selected times and compiled by computer at the Suitland, Maryland
Weather Bureau Center. The computers analyze this information and produce a number of
products, including the Surface Analysis Chart, which are transmitted to subscribers throughout
At weather offices, two types of Surface Analysis Charts may be displayed. One is a
computerized Surface Analysis Chart usually displayed on a computer monitor, or printed out
and posted near the briefing desk. The other version is a less-common, locally prepared product
drawn and plotted by hand.
The Surface Analysis Chart is used by pilots to obtain an overall facsimile picture of observed
weather, including the location of pressure systems, winds, air masses, and fronts, in relation to
their planned flight route (Figure 2-1). At this point, each of these features should be familiar
from previous meteorology classes.
Figure 2-1 Surface Analysis Chart
The information displayed on the Surface Analysis Chart is observed weather, meaning the chart
represents past history, and is not a forecast. The valid time (VT) of the chart is located in the
lower left-hand corner. This is given in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), and is the
observation time of the information gathered to compile the chart.
DATA DISPLAYED ON WEATHER IMAGERY PRODUCTS