Weather Cameras Go Live in Maine

The FAA’s Weather Camera Program continues to expand its U.S. coverage.


An aircraft in the hangar at sunset with “LifeFlight of Maine” on the side.
LifeFlight pilots rely heavily on weather camera data to gauge flying and landing conditions.

By Jim Tise, FAA

The FAA’s Weather Camera Program has expanded to the northeast coast of the United States.

The FAA is now hosting 18 camera sites in Maine on its Weather Camera website, with plans to add more sites through 2023.

LifeFlight of Maine, which provides medevac service to the state, owns and maintains the camera sites. Josh Dickson, LifeFlight’s director of aviation services, said his goal is to have a camera at every airport in the state and at a few of the “pinch points” over higher terrain.

A view of Eastern Slopes Regional Airport from the newly installed weather cameras.

“We see airports as a health care facility that allows us to fly an on-demand hospital into a community when it is needed,” said Dickson.

The cameras provide pilots with better weather information, especially in terrain where radar coverage is scarce. It is just as important, said Dickson, that the cameras allow his pilots to assess runway conditions at airports.

“When we are trying to get a baby out of rural Maine at 3 a.m., we need to know what the runway looks like,” explained Dickson. He noted that most of the airports don’t have air traffic control towers and do not have current Notices to Air Missions (NOTAM) declaring surface conditions.

A mounted weather camera with winter snow in the background.
A LifeFlight weather camera installed at Wiscasset Airport in Maine.

“Can we send an aircraft, and if so, what kind?” Dickson said. “We need to be able to see if a runway has been plowed. Is there a moose standing in the middle of the runway? Is there precipitation not showing up on the radar? Our cameras can tell us all of that.”

The FAA’s Weather Camera Program began in Alaska more than 20 years ago. The FAA has expanded it to Hawaii and the continental United States.

“Our momentum is really good right now,” said Cohl Pope, program manager. “There’s going to be more.”

Pope estimates the potential for an additional 330 sites across Alaska, Hawaii and the contiguous United States.

For instance, the state of Montana has installed cameras at a dozen sites, adding “little by little as they go,” said Pope. One private airport in Utah has added a camera as well. The FAA has installed 11 sites in Hawaii. Ten additional sites are scheduled for FY23 with the remaining five in FY24.

The program directors held a webinar in December 2022 that drew about 900 attendees, providing information for how state officials and DOTs can incorporate weather camera technology into their regions.

In addition to expansion to more states throughout the U.S., the Weather Camera Program is also researching technological improvements that will introduce 360-degree camera capabilities.

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