The National Weather Service’s monitoring system at the Houghton County Memorial Airport is responsible for compiling all of the weather-related information for flights.
The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) takes readings every few minutes of conditions such as precipitation, visibility and wind.
And until recently, if any part of the system wasn’t working, a plane would not be allowed to land at the airport.
Airport officials worked with legislators for a year and eight months to get the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to approve backup weather observers in case of a system breakdown.
Houghton County Memorial Airport Manager Dennis Hext said, “Then we call one of them in and what they do is they augment the weather. They’re going to give observations and override the system and then you shouldn’t even tell if we don’t have any weather up here or anything like that. It should just work without any interruptions.”
With more than two thousand passengers inconvenienced by the lack of a backup system in the last year alone, there is already a noticeable difference in airport efficiency.
Four observers are currently certified–two from SkyWest Airlines and two from the airport. More observers are expected to be approved in the near future.