Alternative to relocating mountain weather station urged

February 12, 2013

AOPA has requested that the National Weather Service reconsider plans to move an automated surface observing system (ASOS) from its present 4,000-foot-elevation position at Stampede Pass in Washington state’s Cascade Mountains about 11 miles north to Snoqualmie Pass. The proposed relocation would lower the ASOS’s elevation by about 1,000 feet, reducing its usefulness to mountain flights, AOPA said. Members may comment on the proposal.

In comments submitted Feb. 8, AOPA encouraged the NWS to explore options to preserve operations at the present site.

NWS has requested feedback from users on the proposed relocation, which would occur in summer 2013 or later. The possible move is being considered because of the difficulty of maintaining communications lines to the site and other logistical obstacles to keeping the station (designated KSMP) running, especially in winter, NWS said.

“While AOPA understands there are logistical issues related to the ongoing operation of KSMP, relocation of the ASOS to a lower altitude location could greatly hinder the critical weather information that pilots currently receive,” wrote Melissa McCaffrey, AOPA senior government analyst for air traffic services. “We encourage the National Weather Service to explore and prioritize alternatives that would allow continued availability of KSMP weather information to the aviation community at its present location.”

Maintaining the ASOS in Stampede Pass is also important because the pass is a preferred route for flights in the Cascades, “especially for transient pilots unfamiliar with the Columbia Gorge route,” McCaffrey said.

AOPA also urged the NWS to make a strong effort to reach out to aviation stakeholders as it considers options for the weather station.

Members may submit comments on the ASOS relocation proposal to Dr. Bradley Coleman, National Weather Service, Seattle Weather Forecast Office, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, Washington 98115-6349.

Please share your comments with AOPA.

Topics Summer, Weather