Official Weather Observer at Airport

clestudentpilot

Well-Known Member
I'm not sure if this is the best place to put this question, but here it goes...are all air traffic controllers official weather observers? Do you go through the training at Oklahoma City for that? I'm just kinda curious, the CTI program I'm in has a class to become one, and I don't want to pay the tuition for a class not required by the college, but I would like that knowledge (before you ask, I looked into doing an independent study of the class, but they won't allow me too). I'm just kinda hoping that I mayh be able to go through that at Oklahoma City. Thanks in advance for any replies!
 

whysoserial

New Member
I'm not sure if this is the best place to put this question, but here it goes...are all air traffic controllers official weather observers? Do you go through the training at Oklahoma City for that? I'm just kinda curious, the CTI program I'm in has a class to become one, and I don't want to pay the tuition for a class not required by the college, but I would like that knowledge (before you ask, I looked into doing an independent study of the class, but they won't allow me too). I'm just kinda hoping that I mayh be able to go through that at Oklahoma City. Thanks in advance for any replies!
My first facility had contract weather observers...all we had to do was enter tower visibility if needed. At the facility I'm at now, I had to do the LAWRS test as we are the weather observers who augment the ASOS weather if needed. You don't do any of it at OKC. You will do the Tower Visibility test in OKC though.
 

HiDef

New Member
I'm not sure if this is the best place to put this question, but here it goes...are all air traffic controllers official weather observers? Do you go through the training at Oklahoma City for that? I'm just kinda curious, the CTI program I'm in has a class to become one, and I don't want to pay the tuition for a class not required by the college, but I would like that knowledge (before you ask, I looked into doing an independent study of the class, but they won't allow me too). I'm just kinda hoping that I mayh be able to go through that at Oklahoma City. Thanks in advance for any replies!
Most controllers in the FAA are not "official weather observers" or LAWR's certified. Does it help to have an understanding of the basics of weather when you work in a tower? Yes. Knowing the difference between a broken layer and a scattered layer is beneficial in a tower setting, however knowing when to include an obscuration in a METAR or what constitutes a wind shift is way beyond what you really need to know. I'd say skip the class if they let you.

HD
 

clestudentpilot

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the replies. I do have a basic knowledge of the weather and what is behind it, and even though I am not certified to do so at the airport at my school, could do a METAR on my own most of the time, and know the basics of when a special is required. I am not required to take the class, I just wanted to to get a better grasp on the ins and outs of it, but I will not pay for a 3 credit class which is not required. Along the same note, does anyone know if it is possible to become a certified weather observer on your own? I have heard that you need to be signed off to take the exam, but I wasn't sure if there is a way to do it on your own or not. Thanks again for the replies!
 

whysoserial

New Member
Controllers in the FAA are not "official weather observers" or LAWR's certified. Does it help to have an understanding of the basics of weather when you work in a tower? Yes. Knowing the difference between a broken layer and a scattered layer is beneficial in a tower setting, however knowing when to include an obscuration in a METAR or what constitutes a wind shift is way beyond what you really need to know. I'd say skip the class if they let you.

HD
Well, I had to get LAWRS certified at my current facility. We are the only weather observers at the airport and routinely have to augment what the ASOS is reporting as the weather where I am is constantly changing. If the ASOS is reporting 300 overcast when a single cloud is on top of it, I can change the report to show few at 300. We couldn't do that at the other facility I worked at. We were not LAWRS certified. We just reported tower visibility. When the ASOS broke, we had to call the weather folks and have them tell us that it was clear.

All of us need to make an observation once a month to stay current. Your tower must be one where they have other people responsible for it.
 

PilotChip

Air Traffic Controller
Controllers in the FAA are not "official weather observers" or LAWR's certified.

I am a controller in the FAA, LAWRS certified and an official FAA Weather Observer...

At our facility we, the controllers, record the official weather observation AND make the entire ATIS broadcast; there is no ASOS. We determine visibility, obscurations, cloud layers, heights, ceilings, precipitation levels, wind etc...

The first assignment upon check-in is the 40-hour LAWRS certification course then the test.

It's all done at the facility so there should be no other classes needed before that.

But remember, the LAWRS certification is facility specific, so not every tower will require it nor provide you with any LAWRS certification course!
 

HiDef

New Member
Ok, ok, my bad.:eek: I thought most FAA facilities would at least have an asos/awos or a contract observer. I was LAWRS certified with Midwest atc but when I got into the FAA they actually sent off to have my certification "downgraded". Must be mostly mid to low level vfr towers then that still have the controllers reporting or augmenting the wx.

HD
 

whysoserial

New Member
Must be mostly mid to low level vfr towers then that still have the controllers reporting or augmenting the wx.

HD
Not trying to be a prick (honestly) but we had contract observers at my last facility (Class C) and we are the observers at my current facility (Class C) which isn't a VFR tower. Maybe we're the only one of that type, or it's a "California near the coast type thing" :)

Who knows.
 

HiDef

New Member
Not trying to be a prick (honestly) but we had contract observers at my last facility (Class C) and we are the observers at my current facility (Class C) which isn't a VFR tower. Maybe we're the only one of that type, or it's a "California near the coast type thing" :)

Who knows.
Yeah, really weird. I asked when I got to my facility if I could do our reporting, maybe make some extra money, but they said we already had it contracted. Leave it to the FAA to be inconsistant...

HD
 

davolijj

New Member
Thanks for the replies. I do have a basic knowledge of the weather and what is behind it, and even though I am not certified to do so at the airport at my school, could do a METAR on my own most of the time, and know the basics of when a special is required....
You may think you know how to do a METAR, and when the weather is CAVU you probably could. But get into some IFR conditions with rapidly changing CIGs and VIS, throw in some indefinite ceilings, partial obscurations, and thunderstorms, and you'd be pretty much clueless. Besides, unless you're certified to take observations, whether or not you could do a METAR is irrelavant.

I'm pretty sure the CTI school you're in is CCBC and the class in question is Surface Weather Observer. Believe me you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice by not taking the class. It's a great course, and Jim Scott is an excellent teacher. He probably knows more about aviation surface wether reporting than most people in the NWS. I work at a center and still I'm greatful I took it. No, the FAA doesn't require you to have it but it's still a great asset. SAWRS certified observers can take manual observations, not just augment ASOS/AWOS broadcasts. And if you are required to take the LAWRS course in the FAA this will get you out of it. As for the site-specific issue, you just remain current at BVI by taking one observation every 60 days, then when you find out where you're going have the NWS field facility in Moon send your certificate to your new regional NWS station.

They even had a few grads a while back get contract weather observer jobs making $16/hour while they were waiting to get hired by the FAA.
 

Jandris22

New Member
I graduated CCBC (Beaver) in Decemeber and took the Surface Weather Observer Class. I wouldnt call it a waste of time, the class only met once a week, and I learned alot more about how to observe and record weather from what I picked up in other classes. If you think you can handle the extra workload, Id say take it.
 

atcyg

New Member
Some facilities have NWS on-site, some have NWS contractors on-site, and some facilities are LAWRS.
 

MikeD

Administrator
Staff member
You may think you know how to do a METAR, and when the weather is CAVU you probably could. But get into some IFR conditions with rapidly changing CIGs and VIS, throw in some indefinite ceilings, partial obscurations, and thunderstorms, and you'd be pretty much clueless. Besides, unless you're certified to take observations, whether or not you could do a METAR is irrelavant.

I'm pretty sure the CTI school you're in is CCBC and the class in question is Surface Weather Observer. Believe me you'd be doing yourself a huge disservice by not taking the class. It's a great course, and Jim Scott is an excellent teacher. He probably knows more about aviation surface wether reporting than most people in the NWS. I work at a center and still I'm greatful I took it. No, the FAA doesn't require you to have it but it's still a great asset. SAWRS certified observers can take manual observations, not just augment ASOS/AWOS broadcasts. And if you are required to take the LAWRS course in the FAA this will get you out of it. As for the site-specific issue, you just remain current at BVI by taking one observation every 60 days, then when you find out where you're going have the NWS field facility in Moon send your certificate to your new regional NWS station.

They even had a few grads a while back get contract weather observer jobs making $16/hour while they were waiting to get hired by the FAA.
When i was assigned to South Korea one day, I was making a fuel/WX divert into RKNW/K-46, and approach was calling 600/1.5 in rain/fog. Switching to the PAR final controller, I get talked down to DH, only to see nothing and go missed, back around the radar pattern. Re-confirming the WX, it's calling 600/1.5 again (PAR mins 100-1/4). Come back around again, down the chute, and go missed. After two more laps around the pattern (and no where else to go), I finally grab a small break in the WX allowing me to pick up the airfield perimeter road and defenses below and slightly ahead (good enough for govt work regards airfield environment), and land. Stuck there for a while, I head to the tower to talk to their SOF, and ask the tower how they have 1.5sm when I can't even see the other side of the runway? Tower says "I see 3/4 mile that way, 3/4 mile that way....visibility 1.5 mile". lol. Of course, none of their home-station planes are flying either.

The TF was calling for 1.5 apparently, and the ROK (enlisted) observers apparently don't observe anything less that what the ROK (officer) forecaster forecasted, regardless of actual.
 
Top