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Reading the High Resolution Coded Surface Bulletin

The high resolution coded surface bulletin describes the locations of high and low pressure centers, surface frontal systems, and surface troughs. For pressure centers the strength of the high or low is given in whole millibars and is followed by a string containing the latitude and longitude of the feature precise to the tenths of a degree. The first three digits indicate the latitude in degrees north, while the last four represent the longitude in degrees west. Fronts and troughs are described by a series of latitude and longitude points.

Here's an example (Decode this bulletin) :

VALID 120612Z
HIGHS 1036 4391169 1037 4051079 1031 3850701 1033 4901183
1026 3220892 1022 3571272
LOWS 1018 4681013 1017 3420986 998 5040817 1002 5770777 999 7491590 998
6820769 999 7611335 986 6300408 985 6910524 994 6410555 968 5410273
STNRY 2660729 2530763 2350807 2230836 2060863 1820877 1580880
TROF 3410986 3291003 3191023 3121044
COLD 4440850 4290863 4160879 4030904 3980931 4050954 4180966
OCFNT 5030817 4830826 4620838 4440850
WARM 5641373 5481339 5251313 4981295 4921292 4711283 4531278
TROF 3211165 3441198 3661223 3941243
COLD 5631375 5161360 4651357 4181371 3941386


VALID 120612Z
The valid time of the analysis in the format MMDDHH where:
  • MM is the two-digit month - example: 12 is December
  • DD is the two-digit day - example: 06 is the 6th day of the month
  • HH is the two-digit hour - example: 12 which stands for 1200Z or 0300 UTC
The Z at the end indicates that this is Zulu or UTC time.


HIGHS 1036 4391169 1037 4051079 1031 3850701...
Describes the strength and location of high pressure centers. The first value is the central pressure in millibars. The second value is the location of the feature in latitude and longitude precise to the tenths of a degree. In the example above,
  • 1036 4391169 - This is a 1036 millibar (mb) high centered at 43.9 degrees North (N), 116.9 degrees West (W).
  • 1037 4051079 - A 1037 mb high centered at 40.5N 107.9W.
  • 1031 3850701 - A 1031 mb high centered at 38.5N 70.1W.


LOWS 1018 4681013 1017 3420986 998 5040817...
Describes the strength and location of low pressure centers. In this example,
  • 1018 4681013 - This is a 1018 mb low centered at 46.8N 101.3W.
  • 1017 3420986 - A 1017 mb low centered at 34.2N 98.6W.
  • 998 5040817 - A 998mb low centered at 50.4N 81.7W.

The remainder of the message provides the location of all fronts and troughs in latitude and longitude.

STNRY 2660729 2530763 2350807 2230836 2060863 1820877 1580880

This is a stationary front (STNRY) extending from 26.6N 72.9W through 25.3N 76.3W, 23.5N 80.7W, 22.3N 83.6W, 20.6N 86.3W, 18.2N 87.7W, ending at 15.8N 88.0W.

TROF 3410986 3291003 3191023 3121044
This is a trough (or trof as labeled on the surface map) extending from 34.1N 98.6W through 32.9N 100.3W, 31.9N 102.3W, ending at 31.2N 104.4W.

COLD 4440850 4290863 4160879 4030904 3980931 4050954 4180966
This is a cold front extending from 44.4N 85.0W through 42.9N 86.3W, 41.6N 87.9W, 40.3N 90.4W, 39.8N 93.1W, 40.5N 95.4W, ending at 41.8N 96.6W.

OCFNT 5030817 4830826 4620838 4440850
This is an occluded front extending from 50.3N 81.7W through 48.3N 82.6W, 46.2N 83.8W, ending at 44.4N 85.0W.

All possible frontal types are provided in the table below.

Frontal Type
WARM - warm front
COLD - cold front
STNRY - stationary front
OCFNT - occluded front
TROF - can represent a trough, outflow boundary, squall line, or dry line


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Page last modified: Thursday, 01-Mar-2007 18:20:27 UTC