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Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS)

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Article Information
Category: Weather Weather
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary


Automated Weather Observing System (AWOS) is a fully configurable airport weather system that provides continuous, real time information and reports on airport weather conditions. AWOS stations are mostly operated, maintained and controlled by aviation service providers.

AWOS Measurements

Depending on the configuration, AWOS measure some or all of following parameters:

  • Barometric pressure (in hectopascals (hPa) / inches of Mercury (inHg)), altimeter setting and density altitude
  • Wind speed and wind gusts (in knots), wind direction (from which the wind is blowing) and variable wind direction (in degrees of the compass)
  • Temperature and dew point (in degrees Celsius)
  • Visibility and variable visibility (in metres/miles)
  • Sky condition (in oktas), cloud ceiling height (in metres/feet) and liquid precipitation accumulation (in centimetres/inches)
  • Precipitation type (e.g. rain, snow, drizzle) identification
  • Thunderstorm detection (via a cloud-to-ground lightning detector)
  • Freezing rain detection (via a freezing rain sensor)
  • Runway surface conditions.

Non-certified sensors may be attached to AWOS systems, but weather data derived from those sensors must be clearly identified as "advisory" in any voice messages and may not be included in any METAR observations.

Weather Data Dissemination

AWOS systems disseminate weather data in a variety of ways:

  • A computer-generated voice message which is broadcast via radio frequency to pilots in the vicinity of an airport. The message is updated at least once per minute, and this is the only mandatory form of weather reporting for an AWOS.
  • Optionally, a computer-generated voice message, available over a telephone dial-up modem service. The message is updated at least once per minute.
  • Optionally (but frequently done), AWOS messages may be disseminated via ground data link in METAR format, typically once every 20 minutes.

Related Articles

Meteorological Terminal Air Report (METAR)