Meteorologist explains how data is collected for use by aviation agencies, weather reporters

Updated: Feb. 7, 2020 at 8:38 PM CST
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — If you’ve watched the forecasts from any of our meteorologists over the last few months, you may have noticed that Mankato’s data may have been missing.

A lot of you have reached out to us to ask why that is.

Those temperatures and other information are sent to us from automated weather collection systems all over the state.

And basically, the missing data is due to technical difficulties.

Automated Weather Observing Systems (AWOS) and Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) are automated sensor suites that were designed to serve aviation and meteorological needs.

The main difference between the two types of systems is that ASOS is newer and better at collecting climatological data and the fact that these systems are operated by different organizations.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) runs AWOS stations, while ASOS is a collaborative ownership between the National Weather Service, FAA and the Department of Defense.

There are 100 of these stations across Minnesota and thousands more throughout the country.

Since these stations are designed to serve pilots, as well as meteorologists, they’re often located at airports. These weather stations record real-time weather data, including:

  • Barometric pressure;
  • Temperature;
  • Dew point;
  • Wind speed;
  • Wind direction;
  • Visibility;
  • Cloud cover;
  • Cloud height;
  • Precipitation amounts;
  • and precipitation types.

These stations even have the ability to detect thunderstorm activity within 10 miles of the sensor.

This data is used in weather applications and by meteorologists to keep community members up to date on current conditions.

This data is not only helpful for the general public, but also to the aviation industry.

These automated weather systems help pilots plan out their flights and even help them decide if it’s safe to fly.

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