Hawaii To Get FAA Weather Cameras


The FAA is installing 23 weather-camera sites in Hawaii in an extension of a program started in Alaska and expanded to Colorado last year. Each site can carry four cameras and will provide “near-real-time” weather imagery to go with automated weather reports. The cameras will be on the FAA’s weather cam site by June of 2021.

The FAA says the “Hawaii project will install 23 camera facilities throughout the islands. The FAA has completed engineering surveys and site selections on Kauai, Lanai, Maui and Molokai, and will begin surveys on Oahu and the Big Island in March 2021.” The first installations will be on Kauai in March and “will move to the other islands as the agency develops engineering plans, obtains leases and permits, and procures the equipment. The agency expects images from the Kauai cameras will be on its weather-camera website in mid-2021. The FAA is basing site locations on flight routes and areas where weather conditions commonly affect and interrupt flight operations.”

Some FAA weather camera images are annotated with details on local terrain.

According to Walter Combs, manager of the FAA Weather Camera Program, “The cameras themselves are small, lightweight and portable. They take around two days to install, and after that, control systems tell us if there is an outage. The flexibility, affordability and reliability of these camera facilities save precious time and resources. This team—consisting of fewer than 20 people—is responsible for nurturing an idea into a robust, low-cost and highly available service.”

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. I know the technology wasn’t there when I was replaced by an ASOS in the mid 1990s after a test comparing human observations to the ASOS at KLUK determined that the ASOS was “good enough.” I never thought so and as pilots in Alaska have known forever, “eyes (or camera) on” cannot be replaced. I can attest to times the ASOS reported WOXOF when the instrument was simply surrounded by a tiny spot of fog while the sky was clear and the runways were unobscured, and Sky Clear when it was really 500 BKN because the only hole in the layer was directly over the ceiliometer. I’m glad to see that pilots in areas subject such incorrect readings are being given another tool to assist in evaluating the safety of their proposed flight and that the FAA has been nimble enough to adopt this new technology. I do wonder how a pilot can access this enroute – can FSS see them and relate verbally what they see? Are they permitted to do this?