Putting it all Together

Let's have a look at how we can put all this information together to give us a beter picture of what is happening in the atmosphere.

Example One

Both of these images are from 2200 UTC. The image on the left is the visible image and on the right is the infrared.

Note the area of stratus identified earlier off the Canterbury coast (red arrow) doesn’t appear in the infrared image. 

If all you looked at was the infrared image, you might think there was a lot of cloud over Dunedin. However, the visible image shows this to be a thin layer of cloud. It must be cirrus because the tops are so cold in the infrared image.

Example Two

This example highlights the importance of using satellite and radar images together. 

Both of these images are from the same time. This is an example of a southwest flow over New Zealand, with lots of bubbly (cumuliform) cloud west of the country and along the east coast. The radar shows showers clipping Banks Peninsula and running up the east coast towards southern Wairarapa. There are also showers appearing on the Mahia Radar.

Look at the visible image on the left and note the appearance of the cloud associated with the showers heading into southern Wairarapa. The same type of cloud extends all the way up into northern Wairarapa and Central Hawke's Bay, as well as right up into Gisborne. 

There are no showers appearing on the radar in northern Wairarapa, southern and Central Hawke's Bay (the area shown by the red arrow) because they are a long way from the radar, so are below the beam. However, we can infer from the satellite image that there are showers right up the east coast of the North Island.


Above mean sea level


Towering Cumulus


above ground level



Flight Information Service communications


Air Traffic Service

Royal New Zealand Air Force

in vicinity of aerodrome Thunderstorm


Air Traffic Control


in vicinity of aerodrome








Routine air report from aircraft in flight


Flight Information Region

Internet Flight Information Service


Visual flight rules

Automatic Terminal Information Service


Basic weather report

New Zealand Flight Information Region

Aerodrome special routine meteorological report

Automatic aerodrome routine meteorological report

Aerodrome routine meteorological report


Aerodrome forecast

Area forecast

Significant meteorological information