Vision

Picture above: On clear days, Tel Aviv's skyline is visible from the Carmel mountains, 80kms north

In meteorology, visibility is a measure of the distance at which an object or light can be clearly discerned. It is reported within surface weather observations and METAR code either in meters or statute miles, depending upon the country. Visibility affects all forms of traffic: roads, sailing and aviation. Meteorological visibility refers to transparency of air: in dark, meteorological visibility is still the same as in daylight for the same air.

In extremely clean air in Arctic or mountainous areas, the visibility can be up to 161 kilometers (100 miles) where there are large markers such as mountains or high ridges. However, visibility is often reduced somewhat by air pollution and high humidity. Various weather stations report this as haze (dry) or mist (moist). Fog and smoke can reduce visibility to near zero, making driving extremely dangerous. The same can happen in a sandstorm in and near desert areas, or with forest fires. Heavy rain (such as from a thunderstorm) not only causes low visibility, but the inability to brake quickly due to hydroplaning. Blizzards and ground blizzards (blowing snow) are also defined in part by low visibility.

As objects become more distant they appear smaller because their visual angle decreases. The visual angle of an object is the angle subtended at the eye by a triangle with the object at its base. The greater the distance of the object from the eye, the greater is the height of this triangle, and the less the visual angle.