These pages are presented to reduce the confusion on procedures and policies governing the establishment and operation of a Supplemental Aviation Weather Reporting Station (SAWRS).

Types of SAWRS

There are distinctly different types of SAWRS in operation. The different SAWRS configurations are directly related to automated observing equipment. This discussion will involve only two, SAWRS and


A) Supplementary Aviation Weather Reporting Station (SAWRS)

A Supplementary Aviation Weather Reporting Station at which a manual observation is the primary source of reporting the weather observation. There is neither a commissioned Automated Surface Observing System(ASOS) or a commissioned Automated Weather Observing System(AWOS) at the station. The SAWRS observer is the source of the official observation if no other federal or contract weather observers are on duty.

B) Supplementary Aviation Weather Reporting Station-II (SAWRS-II)

A Supplementary Aviation Weather Reporting Station at which a commissioned ASOS is the primary source of reporting the weather observation. The SAWRS-II observer will provide manual backup to ASOS according to instructions described in the current National Weather Service Observing Handbook or Office of Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) Handbook that applies to SAWRS-II backup of ASOS and other instructions as issued by the servicing Regional Headquarters (RH) and the Observing System Branch at Weather Service Headquarters (WSH).

Reasons For Establishing A SAWRS

A SAWRS/SAWRS-II is a station established at an airport by aviation interests under the direction of the National Weather Service when it has determined that weather observations are needed:

A) To satisfy Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR), Parts 121 or 135, or

B) For the safe conduct of other aircraft operations.

Government Services (NWS) To An Approved SAWRS Location

A) Certify qualified employees, provided by the cooperator, to observe and record the required elements of the observation.

B) Furnish training material- handbooks, instructions, and forms required for taking and recording observations and envelopes for mailing observational records to specified destination.

C) Furnish technical advice and guidance in the selection, installation, operation, and maintenance of meteorological instruments and equipment.

D) Provide inspection and guidance of the observation program.

E) Provide instrumentation for reporting elements other than the basic elements required in a SAWRS report or instruments used jointly by the cooperator and the government.

Services Required of Cooperator

The aviation interest or interest requiring the observations must enter into an agreement with the National Weather Service to:

A) Provide necessary equipment to measure cloud height, wind, temperature, dew point (if required), and altimeter setting.

B) Provide suitable quarters, including space for properly installing instruments and equipment required by the SAWRS program at that location.

C) Provide, install, operate, relocate if necessary, protect and maintain all instruments and equipment as required by the National Weather Service.

D) Provide transmitting facilities and transmit the observations to own company aircraft, and if required, to a designated National Weather Service (NWS) or Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) facility.

E) Provide qualified personnel to observe, record, and disseminate the weather observation or element(s) in accordance with the NWS Observing Handbook #8.

F) Mail the Original of all observational forms to a NWS facility as directed by the National Weather Service Regional Headquarters.

G) Make all observations that are taken and recorded available to all other local aviation interests.

H) Promptly inform the NWS supervising office when a change in flight schedules requires a change in the schedule of observations.

I) Annotate and return the certificates of observers who terminate employment with the effective date to issuing authority.

J) Permit government officials free ingress and egress to the station for the purpose of inspection and guidance of observation program and to check on associated equipment and instrumentation.

K) Provide additional services as listed on WS Form B-12.

Applying to Establish a SAWRS Program

Agencies or organizations meeting the criteria for establishing and operating a SAWRS/SAWRS-II, and willing to meet the service requirements of the cooperator should file a written request with the National Weather Service Southern Region Headquarters. The request for a SAWRS should include the following information:

A) Location - Proposed station name, three letter SID (if available) and airport name

B) Hours - Proposed hours during which observations required

C) Requirement - State reason for observations; e.g. FAR 121 and/or FAR 135, aircraft safety

D) Who needs it - Aviation interests requiring the observations

E) Who will take observations- Airport employees, FBO, etc.

F) Communication - Proposed distribution of observations other than on the airport

G) Agreement - Proposed plan with other established SAWRS cooperators on the airport (if applicable)

H) Start-up date - State the desired date for commissioning the station

Processing Applications

The Southern Region Headquarters (SRH), upon receipt of a request for establishing a SAWRS will determine through coordination with the FAA area or regional office that a SAWRS is needed at the location.

If the SRH approves the request for the SAWRS program, three copies of the Cooperative Agreement for Aviation Weather Observations (WS Form B- 12), will be sent to the Cooperator. These should be signed, dated and

returned to the SRH. The "Effective Date" is entered on the WS Form B- 12 when the equipment has been installed and inspected to ensure that it is operational and meets National Weather Service requirements, the prospective observers meet certification requirements, and the visibility charts and other appropriate tables have been prepared and are available at the station. The SRH will designate a National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWSFO) as a supervising station (see attachment E) for the SAWRS. A representative of this office will visit the site for a certification inspection.

Certification of SAWRS Observers

The National Weather Service Forecast Office servicing your area may assist you in getting your observers prepared to take the aviation weather examination (see attachment B) in order to obtain the Certificate of Authority to Take Weather Observations. Briefly, an observer must:

  1. Be trained to take surface weather observations in accordance with National Weather Service procedures. Through coordination with the local Weather Service Forecast Office, this training can be self-study, group instruction, or on-the-job training at an approved facility. Any cost associated with training, salaries, travel, etc., for the cooperative employees will be borne by the cooperator.
  2. Have distant vision of not less than 20/30 (Snellen) in the better eye, corrected if necessary, and have near vision, corrected if necessary, which meets the Jaeger #2 standard.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to take and record an accurate and timely observation.
  4. Pass the written certification examination administered by the National Weather Service.

When a candidate meets the above requirements, the National Weather Service Regional Headquarters will issue a Certificate of Authority to Take Weather Observations.

Maintaining Observer Certification

The National Weather Service standard requires that each SAWRS observer take, encode, and record on the MF1M-10C form at least five complete weather observations every 30 days. Failure to do so will invalidate the certificate of authority to take weather observations. An observer with a invalid certificate cannot take official weather observations unless reinstated by the National Weather Service office serving his/her area. Therefore, consideration should be given to avoid long delays between observations for any one observer when establishing an

observation program. Additionally, the National Weather Service may revoke certification whenever the performance of an observer is considered substandard.

Elements to be Observed

At a minimum, the following elements will be observed in accordance with the current NWS Observing Handbook #8.

A) Wind direction and speed,

B) Visibility.

C) Present Weather.

D) Sky cover and layer height.

E) Temperature.

F) Dew point (if required for preparation of terminal forecasts).

G) Altimeter setting.

H) Significant remarks.

I) Any additional elements required in the Cooperative Agreement for Aviation Weather Observations (WS Form B-12).

Meteorological Instruments For SAWRS

The following information is intended for the use of SAWRS cooperator in the selection, procurement and installation of meteorological equipment suitable for the SAWRS program. Included are the specifications for accuracy and exposure of the required equipment. A partial list of suppliers of such equipment is contained in Attachment C. It should also be noted that meteorological instruments range from the sophisticated and expensive to the simplest and inexpensive. The task of buying them is not easy. Here are some guidelines you can use:

Accuracy - Should meet or exceed specifications.

Sensitivity - Should be easy to read to the required precision.

Reliability - Should retain calibration for a long period.

Durability - Should be capable of operation under extreme weather conditions.

Maintainability - Should be easy to operate, maintain and repair.

Before you decide to buy, be sure you have written proof that the manufacturer's equipment meets the standards and specifications stated herein. The National Weather Service requires it in order to officially establish your station.


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