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SIGMET,[1] or Significant Meteorological Information (AIM 7-1-6),[2] is a severe weather advisory that contains meteorological information concerning the safety of all aircraft. Compared to AIRMETs, SIGMETs cover more severe weather. Today, according to the advancement of technology in civil aviation, the SIGMET is sent as IWXXM model.[3]


There are three main types of internationally recognized SIGMETs per ICAO:

  • Volcanic ash (VA or WV SIGMET)
  • Tropical Cyclone (TC SIGMET)
  • Other En-route weather phenomenon (WS SIGMET), which may consist of
    • Thunderstorm types
    • Turbulences types
    • Mountain waves
    • Icing/Sleet/Hail
    • Dust or sand storms
    • Radioactive Cloud


This information is usually broadcast on the ATIS at ATC facilities, as well as over VOLMET stations. They are assigned an alphabetic designator from N through Y (excluding S and T).[2] SIGMETs are issued as needed, and are valid up to four hours. SIGMETS for hurricanes and volcanic ash outside the CONUS are valid up to six hours.[5]

Convective SIGMETs[edit]

For airmen in the U.S., there is an additional category of SIGMET known as a convective SIGMET. These are issued for convection over the coterminous U.S.. There are three types of convective SIGMETs:

Type Definition
Line Thunderstorm Thunderstorms at least 60 miles long with thunderstorms affecting 40% of its length.
Area Thunderstorm Thunderstorms covering at least 40% of the area concerned and exhibiting a very strong radar reflectivity or a significant satellite or lightning signature.
Embedded Thunderstorm Embedded or severe thunderstorms expected to occur for more than 30 minutes.

There are also a few special issuance convective SIGMETs to cover extreme weather more common in the U.S., including

  • Tornadoes
  • Hail greater than or equal to 3/4 inches in diameter
  • Wind gusts greater than or equal to 50 knots



SIGMETs are internationally used by ICAO and WMOs using standardized abbreviations

Abbreviation Meaning
ABV Above
CNL Cancel or cancelled
CTA Control area
FCST Forecast
FIR Flight Information Region
FL Flight level
FT Feet
INTSF Intensify or intensifying
KT Knots
KMH Kilometres per hour
M Metres
MOV Moving
NC No Change (in intensity)
NM Nautical Miles
OBS Observed
SFC Surface
STNR Stationary
TOP Top (of CB cloud)
WI Within (area)
WKN Weakening (intensity)
Z Coordinated Universal Time

and are split into three lines:

  • Header
  • Summary
  • Main Body

In sum, a standardized SIGMET will have the following structure:

TTAAii CCCC YYGGgg [BBB] CCCC SIGMET [n][n]n VALID YYGGgg/YYGGgg CCCC- CCCC <FIR/CTA Name> FIR <Phenomenon> OBS/FCST [AT GGggZ] <Location> <Level> [MOV XXX xx KT/KMH] [INTSF/WKN/NC] <Forecast time and forecast position>=


The header line consists of the following characters


Component Description
TT A data type identifier per the types of SIGMETs mentioned above. VA or WV for volcanic ash, TC for tropical cyclone, and WS otherwise.
AA The two-character country or territory code of the alert.
ii Bulletin number
CCCC The 4-character ICAO location of the dissmenating office.
YY Day of the month.
GG Hours UTC.
gg Minutes UTC.
[CCx] When included, indicates a correction that takes the form of CCx where x is A-Z indicating the correction number.


The first line of the broadcast is a summary line consisting of the following characters


Component Description
CCCC The 4-character ICAO location of the affected area.
SIGMET Indicates that this is a SIGMET broadcast. [a]
[n][n]n A sequence number of the form 1', 01, A01, etc. which is incremented for each time the SIGMET remains effective past 0001UTC or upon renewals. Helps indicate how long the SIGMET has been active.
VALID YYGGgg/YYGGgg Indicates the period the SIGMET is active (WS SIGMETs can not be active for more than 4 hours), where YY is the day of the month, GG is the hour, and gg is the minute.
CCCC- The 4-character ICAO location of the dissmenating office followed by a hyphen.
   [a] – if it a convective SIGMET, then this will read SIG[E/C/W] CONVECTIVE SIGMET ##[E/C/W]. Where E/C/W indicates whether it's over the Eastern, Central, or Western United States, and ## indicates the number of the convective SIGMET issued for that region.


The main body of a SIGMET can be much more variable, and consists of

CCCC [FIR/CTA list] <Phenomenon> OBS/FCST [AT GGggZ] <Location> <Level> [MOV XXX xx KT/KMH] [INTSF/WKN/NC] [FCST AT <GGgg>Z <location>]=

CCCC [FIR/CTA list] is again the 4-character ICAO location, followed by the affected flight or control regions.

<Phenomenon> is a code describing the meteorological phenomena as follows:

Code Description
OBSC TS Obscured thunderstorms
EMBD TS Embedded thunderstorms
FRQ TS Frequent thunderstorms
SQL TS Squall line thunderstorms
OBSC TSGR Obscured thunderstorms with hail
EMBD TSGR Embedded thunderstorms with hail
FRQ TSGR Frequent thunderstorms with hail
SQL TSGR Squall line thunderstorms with hail
SEV TURB Severe turbulence
SEV ICE Severe icing
SEV ICE (FZRA) Severe icing due to freezing rain
SEV MTW Severe mountain wave
HVY DS Heavy duststorm
HVY SS Heavy sandstorm
RDOACT CLD Radioactive cloud

If it is a convective SIGMET, the following codes may appear

Code Description
AREA TS Area-wide thunderstorms
LINE TS Thunderstorm line
EMBD TS Embedded thunderstorms
TDO Tornado
FC Funnel Cloud
WTSPT Waterspout
HVY GR Heavy Hail


OBS/FCST [AT GGggZ] indicates whether the phenomenon is observed (OBS) or forecasted (FCST), and the Zulu hour and minute that it was observed or will be forecasted.

<Location> is a general description of location of the meteorological phenomenon, typically utilizing latitude and longitudinal coordinates.

<Level> helps denote the altitude that the phenomenon will be occurred, and can be expressed as

FLnnn or nnnnM or nnnnFT At a particular altitude
SFC/FLnnn or SFC/nnnnM or SFC/nnnnFT From the surface (SFC) to a particular altitude
FLnnn/nnn or nnnn/nnnnFT Between certain altitudes
TOP FLnnn or ABV FLnnn or TOP ABV FLnnn Above a certain point or cloud cover

[MOV XXX xx KT/KMH] if it is a moving front, the direction and rate of movement given as a compass direction (XXX, e.g. "N" or "WNW"), and the rate is given in KT (or KMH). Sometimes STNR (Stationary) may be used instead if no significant movement is expected.

[INTSF/WKN/NC] denotes the change in strength over time.

[FCST AT <GGgg>Z <location>] helps note where the front is expected to be at the end of the SIGMET's validity period.

SIGMET Renewal and Cancellation[edit]

If when the validity period is due to expire but the phenomenon is expected to persist, a new sequence number is added to the SIGMET to renew it.

If during the validity period of a SIGMET, the SIGMET is to be cancelled, the following replaces the SIGMET message

CNL SIGMET [n][n]n YYGGgg/YYGGgg [8]


WSUS32 KKCI 071655

An en-route weather phenomenon in the U.S., issued by the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, MO on the 7th of August, at 16:55 UTC[9]


This is a convective weather pattern in the central region of the contiguous U.S. with sequence number 83C


That is valid until 18:55 UTC


That covers Minnesota, Indiana, Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, and Lower Michigan flight regions


A description of the area of the storm, where GRR (Grand Rapids, MI airport), GIJ (Niles, MI VORTAC), BDF (Bradford, IL VORTAC), IOW (Iowa City, IA airport), and DBQ (Dubuque, IA airport) are ConTrol Areas (CTAs).


Thunderstorms moving from 250 degrees (roughly WSW) at 25 knots, covering an altitude from the cloud cover to 45,000 ft.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "AIM - page 634". Archived from the original on 2017-02-02.
  2. ^ a b "Pilot's Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge". Federal Aviation Administration. Retrieved 17 September 2019.
  3. ^ Latifiyan, Pouya; Entezari, Mojtaba (March 2024). "IWXXM Amendment (ICAO Meteorological Information Exchange Model)". CATC Robex and Statics Conferences - 2024. Tehran, Iran.
  4. ^ "Training Documentation Database". IVAO Documentation Library.
  5. ^ "AC 00-45H - Aviation Weather Services - Change 2 (Cancelled)". Retrieved 2023-08-27.
  6. ^ "ARC - AIRMETs/SIGMETs". NWS. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  7. ^ "Products for Aviation Hazards". Ascent Ground School.
  8. ^ "SIGMET Quick Reference Guide" (PDF). ICAO.
  9. ^ "COMMS-ID MESSAGE". COMMS-ID MESSAGE. National Weather Service. Retrieved 18 November 2023.

External links[edit]

  • IWXXM 1.0 Official WMO/ICAO representation of SIGMET information in XML