A helicopter lands on the helipad of an oil platform in the North Sea.

HeliBrief® Offshore

Welcome to HeliBrief®Offshore

Welcome to HeliBrief® Offshore, our mobile and tablet accessible weather briefing product for Offshore Helicopter Operators. This product is regulated by the CAA and provided under our remit to NATS.

We have developed the product to be accessible on an iPad mini, as well as on a desk top in the control room setting.

There is a feedback button in the product, but you can also provide feedback by email at productfeedback@metoffice.gov.uk. We look forward to hearing from you.

For 24/7 product support, please ring 0370 900 0100 or email enquiries@metoffice.gov.uk.

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Colour States
Triggered Lightning
Significant Wave Height
Print Packs
UK Low-Level Significant Weather Charts
Aerodrome Actual Weather - METAR Decode
Aerodrome Forecast - TAF Decode

Colour States

Colour states are a good way of quickly ascertaining the conditions over an area without viewing the full observation. A colour state provides a convenient way to assess the observed visibility, cloud base, and amount of cloud at a location, as reported in the locations METAR. Poorer conditions are highlighted by red or yellow symbols; good conditions are highlighted by blue symbols.

The table below lists the conditions that determine the colour state to show.

Colour State Visibility Range 1

Cloud Base Range2, 5/8 or more BKN/OVC

Blue 10km or more 1500ft or more
White 5000m to 9km 1200ft to 1400ft
Green 4000m to 4900m 600ft to 1100ft
Amber 500m to 3900m 200ft to 500ft
Red Less than 500m Less than 200ft

No METAR currently available: Either there is no METAR available, the METAR could not be decoded automatically, or the latest METAR is more than 2 hours old.

1Visibility is reported to the nearest 50m up to 500m, 100m between 500m and 4900m, and the nearest 1 km for 5000m or greater.

2Cloud base is reported to the nearest 100 feet.

The colour states are regularly updated to reflect the latest METARs available to HeliBrief®.

Poorer flying conditions are prevalent at those locations highlighted by red and amber colours, whilst good conditions are highlighted by blue colours. Grey symbols indicate that the latest METAR is unavailable or cannot be decoded.

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Triggered Lightning

The triggered lightning layer shows areas where there is high, medium, or low risk of triggered lightning. Forecasts are provided in 1 hour time steps out to 6 hours ahead. If there is no forecast risk of lightning strike, then there will be no colour visible for this layer.

Triggered lightning risk is forecast using an algorithm based on total surface precipitation rate (rain and snow); the average temperature of the model levels between 2000ft and 3000ft; and the height of the freezing level above 750 feet.

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Significant Wave Height

The significant wave height layer shows areas where wave height is above 2.5, 4, or 6 metres. Forecasts are provided in 1 hour time steps out to 6 hours ahead. If there are no waves forecast above 2.5 metres, no colour is visible for this layer.

Visible Satellite imagery

The structure of clouds in satellite images can inform pilots a lot about the weather, and animated sequences can tell pilots about the movement of these weather systems.

Bands of cloud often indicate the presence of weather fronts, whilst individual clouds are likely to provide detail on the location of convective clouds. Both frontal and convective cloud information is useful to pilots because each are often accompanied by potential weather hazards such as icing, turbulence, hail, and lightning. Gaps in the cloud cover can also reveal the location of snow fields.

Infrared imagery

Satellites also measure the temperature of the clouds and the surface with an infrared sensor. This results in infrared satellite imagery.

The thermal contrast between land and cloud tops allows the position of clouds to be revealed during the hours of darkness. The brightest clouds are those with the greatest thermal contrast, i.e. those with the highest tops such as CBs. Those with little contrast with the land have similar thermal differences so are most likely low cloud like stratus, or fog.

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Print Packs

A selection of Print Pack documents can be downloaded containing the latest, or most relevant, weather information for a variety of areas around the UK.

Print Packs comprise, in order:

- Surface pressure analysis - the latest chart covering the UK.

- Low level significant weather - these charts show expected conditions between the surface and 10,000ft across the area covered by the Print Pack. On the left hand side of the chart a map provides the forecast positions of the fronts, their speed of movement, and areas of weather for the specified validity time. On the right hand side of the chart, the areas of weather are highlighted as A,B,C etc. Alongside these, a description of surface visibility, weather and cloud is provided. The height of the 0°C isotherm for each areas is shown on the right.

- TAFs and METARs - a preselected list of TAFs and METARs for the area covered by the Print Pack.

- Forecast FL020 winds - forecast 2000ft winds (T+6 and T+12)

- Route wind and temperature - these tables allow aircrew to obtain wind and temperature details at various flight levels between 500 ft and 10000ft AMSL along the whole route of their journey. It also provides temperature forecasts for these heights.

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UK Low-Level Significant Weather Charts

UK Low-Level Significant Weather Charts

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Aerodrome Actual Weather - METAR Decode

Aerodrome Actual Weather - METAR Decode

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Aerodrome Forecast - TAF Decode

Aerodrome Forecast - TAF Decode

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HeliBrief®Offshore overview

Supported Devices

Desktop Platforms

  • Windows 7 with the latest versions of Chrome, IE11, or Firefox.

Mobile Platforms

  • iOS9 or later, using Safari, with a minimum screen size of 320×568dp (this is equivalent to the 4" screen of the iPhone5)
  • Android 4.4 or later, using Chrome, with a minimum screen size of 320×568dp.

Features included

  • HeliBrief® Offshore is designed for use on tablet devices and smart phones (the supported platforms section provides further details).
  • Default map extents configurable to the base selected on the home page.
  • Home page displays an overview of:
    • Colour states (civilian)
    • Precipitation rate
    • Surface visibility
    • Significant wave height
    • Triggered lightning
    • Links to other resources
    • Links to print packs
  • Print packs for each base, containing:
    • F215 low level significant weather chart cut out
    • 2000ft wind charts
    • British Isles analysis chart
    • TAFs and METARs
    • Route wind and temperature tables
  • Weather shown on interactive map:
    • Colour states - similar METAR colour state categories to OHWeb (note: these are different to military colour states). Colour states older than 2 hours no longer displayed. Specials for military airfields no longer displayed.
    • Aerodrome warnings
    • Cloud and visibility
      • Surface visibility
      • Cloud, fog, and surface pressure
      • Visible satellite
      • Infrared satellite
    • Lightning
      • Triggered lightning.
      • Lightning (this weather layer includes both observations and forecast)
    • Wind
      • Wind surface
      • Wind FL020
    • Precipitation
      • Precipitation rate (this weather layer includes both radar observation and forecast)
      • Precipitation type
    • Ground state
      • Visible satellite
      • Snow false colour satellite
    • Sea conditions
      • Significant wave height.
      • Sea surface temperature
      • Surface current
    • Map Overlays
      • Lat/Long Grid
  • Text content of TAFs, METARs, and aerodrome warnings, where available, can be displayed in a dynamic list alongside the map, with contents based on locations displayed on the map.
  • TAF, METAR, NAF, and aerodrome warnings lists. You can filter these lists by TAFs only, METARs only, Warnings only, or a combination of the three.
  • Charts
    • Wind and temperature tables
    • Liquid water content tables
    • Regional pressure settings
    • Surface pressure
    • F215 low level significant weather (including print pack cut outs)
    • F214 spot winds
    • British Isles analysis chart
  • Reports
    • London CTA Helicopter Forecast
    • TAFs, METARs and Warnings
    • SIGMETs
    • Regional pressure settings
    • Volcanic ash advisories
  • Notices - system notices are accessible from the page header.
  • PDF User Guide.
  • Feedback email via menu link.

Known issues

The following items are known to exist and may be addressed in future releases of HeliBrief® Offshore. There is no need to contact the Met Office if you encounter any of the issues listed here. All other issues identified should be reported to the Met Office using the feedback link email in the Menu.

  • The map weather layer picker does not work for a specific version of Internet Explorer (IE 11.0.9600.16672). Updating to the current version from Microsoft will correct this.
  • If the internet connection is lost when using the map, cached images will be displayed when available. “Site Data Unavailable” and “Aerodrome Warnings Unavailable” messaging will appear on the next 5 minute auto-refresh to indicate that there is a problem.
  • On rare occasions when switching from a forecast time-step back to “latest” on the Overview page tiles the Precipitation Rate tile does not return to show the most recent radar image, and instead shows the next forecast time-step. This will be corrected on the next 5 minute auto-refresh.
  • The logout button in the menu will not log out the user, but will return the user to the Met Office My Services page, from where the user can log out.

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