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More feedback sought on switch to online forecast

Weather service extends comment window

The half-hour television program that has let Alaska pilots look ahead over the next couple of days has moved off the television airwaves and is now only available online. The format of the program has changed as well. AOPA is interested in your reactions to these changes, and the impact they might have on your ability to plan flights in the state.

The National Weather Service now updates Alaska forecasts daily at 5 p.m. on YouTube, with versions geared to different audiences. The lack of internet access in rural Alaska and the end of the televised daily weather broadcast June 30 has created some concern about access to this information. National Weather Service image via YouTube.

The National Weather Service (NWS) and Alaska Public Media (AKPM) co-produced this half-hour show and distributed it to public television stations across Alaska from 1976 until June 30. The show featured four segments, starting with a general overview of the current day’s weather pattern and a look forward over the next two days. This included any watches or warnings that were in effect. The next segment was specific to aviation weather and included areas forecast to encounter VFR, MVFR, or IFR flight conditions. Forecasts for major mountain passes were presented, along with freezing levels, areas of icing, winds aloft, and associated turbulence expected for the day ahead. In the middle of the show, a short, informational piece on a wide range of topics was included to make the show fit the half-hour time slot.

Initially, the program was broadcast live from AKPM’s studio in Anchorage. In 2018, AKPM’s resource shortages and changing priorities required the NWS to shift to recording the show at its Anchorage facility. More recently, AKPM ceased doing the actual production of the show and feeding it to other public television stations across the state, leaving the NWS with no production and distribution partner.

New format

The show is now recorded by the NWS in Anchorage and uploaded to a new YouTube channel by 5 p.m. each day. The program is now broken up into three separate recordings: a general weather outlook with weather warnings and watches, an aviation weather segment, and a marine segment. Each is a stand-alone video, on the order of five to 10 minutes in length. Playlists for each segment can be found on YouTube and on the NWS website. The most current video is listed first in each playlist.

The future

The NWS is still evaluating the program and may make further changes to the format or channels of delivery. A significant concern is the lack of internet in portions of rural Alaska. The NWS extended the invitation for public comments through July 30 and would like to know if these changes impact your use of the program. The NWS would also like suggestions for other ways to provide weather information to impacted viewers. Please submit comments and suggestions via email, and please send a copy to AOPA.

Tom George

Tom George

AOPA Alaska Regional Manager
AOPA Alaska Regional Manager Tom George has covered Alaska issues for AOPA since 2001. He is a commercial multiengine rated pilot who flies a Cessna 185 for fun and to acquire vertical aerial photography.
Topics: Advocacy, Pilot Weather Briefing Services, Weather

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