Huntingburg Airport adds enhanced weather information to expand aeronautical attraction

Sourced from Dubois County Free Press

Improvements at the Huntingburg Airport will make weather forecasts in the southern portion of Dubois County a lot more accurate later this summer.

The National Weather Service will designate the airport as a Terminal Aerodrome Forecast (TAF) site in late August. The airport already has equipment—an Automated Weather Observing System—that measures the weather information in the area. It was recently updated to be able to provide the increased data for the designation.

That update in addition to the support the airport receives locally as well as the traffic it handles and its size allowed the National Weather Service in Louisville to proceed with the designation. In the Louisville office’s region, which encompasses much of southeastern Indiana and a large portion of central Kentucky, the Huntingburg Airport will be the fourth airport with the designation. The others include airports in Bowling Green, Lexington and Louisville.

“I have been here (with the National Weather Service Louisville office) for 12 years now and I was amazed at how long that runway was in Huntingburg and how many corporate jets I saw,” John Gordon, a meteorologist with the Louisville office, said. “I was stunned to see Lears and Citations and the different types of jets there. I told them if the traffic supported it, I would get them the TAF and those stats are what gave them the TAF.”

Airport Manager Travis McQueen said he had been working on the designation for more than 10 years and just recently received word that the paperwork and request had been accepted for the designation.

“It is all economics,” he explained. “If we have an advantage over the next airport that would make us a go-to place for pilots, at the end of the day it’s all about business. The more airplanes we have flying to Huntingburg, the more gas and services we are going to sell.”

The designation will also add some important measurements to the area forecast that will specifically help pilots and be updated more frequently. “Most forecasts you receive never pinpoint vertical and horizontal visibilities,” said McQueen. “So you don’t hear that you have three miles of visibility on a horizontal component and a thousand foot ceiling. That is the difference between what the TAF provides that all these other weather forecasts don’t cover. That is the tool a pilot needs before he flies from Texas or California.”

Pilots have to have a primary and secondary site for landing in their flight plans. For example, with the more accurate and timely forecasts, pilots flying from Texas to Chicago will wonder about weather conditions at airports along the way so they can plan their fuel and rest stops. Huntingburg will be able to compete with Evansville and Owensboro regional airports with providing specific weather data for pilots to make a decision to land in Huntingburg.

Our emergency response agencies and the public will benefit from the better forecasts as well. The forecast will cover an area that spreads five miles in every direction away from the airport—touching Ferdinand, Holland and Dale while encompassing most of Huntingburg.

“It’s mainly good for the pilots but any update to weather information is useful to us in keeping track of weather information and keeping the public safe,” Gary Fritz, the Dubois County Emergency Management Assistant Director said.