METAR cloud heights messured in hundreds

You are presented with the following METAR reading. KCLS 31008KT 280V350 8SM FEW 55 22/11. It’s seems rather unremarkable, but notice the ‘55’. That leaves you puzzled.

Cloud measurments are always measured in hundreds of feet, so the 55 is not being displayed in the correct format. Why is it not in hundreds?

It is supposed to be showing the clouds at FEW 055, not FEW 55. The National Weather Service uses the 55 format in an example on their for Aviation Weather Products, as seen here. An incorrect format according to the FAA.

Sky condition group is used to report height of cloud bases, tops, and cloud cover. The height of the base of a layer of clouds is coded in hundreds of feet MSL. The top of a layer is entered in hundreds of feet MSL.

Resources:
1. Reference AC 00-45H Aviation Weather Services page 3-15, especially 3.2.1.6.
2. ”Pilot’s Guide for Aviation Weather” from the National Weather Service.

October 12, 2019 by Kyle Boas