Pilots traveling in the Winthrop, Washington, area can now access a new weather reporting system — also known as an automated weather observing system (AWOS) — at the Methow Valley State Airport (S52).
The Washington State Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division activated the AWOS on Thursday, Nov. 17. The FAA then inspected, observed and commissioned the system before it became operational.
Prior to the installation of the AWOS, the closest weather reporting station to the Methow Valley was nearly 30 miles away to the east at the Omak Municipal Airport. Despite the short distance, Omak can experience significantly different weather than the Methow Valley due to the altitude and mountainous terrain that separates the two areas, according to state aviation officials.
WSDOT heard from the aviation community about the need to provide real-time weather information in the Methow Valley. The first option considered was to reactivate a previously decommissioned privately-owned system adjacent to the airport, but it was determined that acquiring a new system is a more cost-effective solution.
Pilots can access the system via radio or phone. Weather information is available by cockpit radio on 118.425 MHz from a distance of up to 60 miles. Alternatively, pilots may also listen to weather information by calling 509-997-0142.
Pilots flying into Methow should check notices to airmen or call State Airport Manager Paul Wolf at 360-618-2477 for more information.
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.