Weather reporting is still coming to the Methow Valley State Airport (S52) in Washington state, despite unexpected delays.
Last year, the Washington State Department of Transportation listened to community feedback, and began the process to reactivate a decommissioned, privately-owned weather reporting system for use at the Methow Valley State Airport in Winthrop.
The currently deactivated weather reporting system – also known as an Automated Weather Observation System (AWOS) – is located adjacent to the airport on private property. Once activated the AWOS will broadcast weather information via radio to pilots flying in the area and provide flight planning information via telephone.
WSDOT plans to reactivate the Methow AWOS this winter. The activation was originally scheduled for earlier this year, but that date was pushed back to ensure that adequate coordination and inspections took place, state officials said.
WSDOT will lease and operate the system from its existing location at no cost other than operational expenses for electricity, telecommunications, and maintenance. The owner decommissioned the AWOS several years ago, after no longer needing it for their own use.
Currently, WSDOT is finalizing the lease agreement and obtaining authorization for the state’s contractor to inspect the AWOS on the private property. WSDOT will also coordinate with the FAA before officially commissioning the system.
The closest AWOS to Methow is less than 30 miles to the west at the Omak Municipal Airport. Omak can experience significantly different weather than the Methow Valley due to the altitude and mountainous terrain that separates them, state officials noted.
Methow Valley State Airport is one of 16 airports that WSDOT operates, and is the only one eligible for federal funds. The airport is used for business travel, recreation and to support emergency operations such as the wildfires last summer.