MARSHALL — Harrison County Airport soon will get an updated Automated Weather Observation System, known as AWOS, thanks to a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation.
“We have (an AWOS system) at the airport. I don’t know how old it is, but I do know it does not work properly all the time,” County Judge Chad Sims said.
Commissioners approved a resolution this past week for an AWOS project to be funded through an agreement between Harrison County and TxDOT.
Such surface weather observation stations are found particularly at local airports and report data such as wind, visibility, sky conditions, temperature dew point, relative humidity, pressure and recent precipitation accumulation. The system provides real-time weather reports for pilots, airport operators and managers and the local community.
“When you’re 50 miles, 60 miles out, you can tune in and listen to the weather in Marshall, and it’ll tell you which way the wind is blowing,” Sims said about how the AWOS system works. “It just gives you a lot of details that you need when you’re coming in to land.”
Oftentimes, some of that information is missing. In those instances, pilots have to tune into Longview’s weather forecast or Shreveport’s to determine Marshall’s weather conditions.
“The good news is TxDOT is picking up 75% of the cost,” Sims said of the ability to get a new system.
The county’s portion of the system will be funded through the airport budget.
“Already our cost, it has come down significantly,” Sims said. “Initially it was $50,000 for the county; now it’s at $39,000. I expect it to be even lower.”
Regarding maintenance of the system, Sims said the county is working with a new company based in Atlanta that maintains the weather system.
“Prior, it was a company called DBT, not anywhere near us, in the Metroplex, Houston area,” he said. “It was difficult for them to come maintain it when we needed something. We’re now using a guy from Atlanta, Texas, probably an hour away. He does a great job.”