To orient you, here is a map of the station's position. Stampede Pass is a full National Weather Service/FAA ASOS station, with very high quality instrumentation. In addition to standard observations (like temperature, pressure, and winds), it has a ceilometer (tells the altitude of the cloud base), freezing rain sensor, visibility sensor, and precipitation type sensor. The ASOS observation system is the gold standard in the U.S., located at major and minor airports around the nation.
For civil aviation, the Stampede Pass weather station has been very important, since Stampede is one of the lowest passes across the Cascades and represents a relatively straight shot, unlike the dangerous hairpin turns of Snoqualmie. Having ceiling and visibility information is important for flight safety.
Stampede Pass provides a detailed view of the weather at crest level and helps characterize the meteorology of the central Cascades. There is nothing remotely like it. The NW Avalanche Center and WSDOT have some sensors at ski areas and on major roadways, but these have less weather parameters, often have poor exposure (e.g., the WSDOT roadway sensors), and are sometimes not available (avalanche sensors during the summer).
In these days of concern about global warming, Stampede Pass is unique: a high-altitude weather station in an area without development that goes back a very long time--in this case, since June 1935. Extraordinarily valuable and a terrible loss to have data collection there interrupted.
So what is the current situation? The sensors are fine and being maintained. The observations are being taken. But the National Weather Service has had severe problems maintaining communication (i.e., telephone lines) to the station and the 1980s technology of ASOS observations can not store information for long. Thus, not only is the information being lost for operational use, it is being lost for climate studies. Very bad.
Take a look at a plot of temperatures at Stampede Pass (SMP) for the past few years. You will see the big gaps.
A major problem for Stampede Pass, and virtually all National Weather Service/FAA ASOS observations, is that the communications/data technology is from the 1980s. I was at the Seattle NWS forecast office and they showed me how they communicate with local ASOS stations (in this case, Boeing Field). They had to use an ancient 9600 baud telephone modem. You remember those, with the blinking lights and strange sounds? For younger folks probably haven't seen them, here is what one looks like. They probably have them in Paul Allen's computer museum.
I think it is time for those of you who are interested in Stampede Pass to let NWS management know about your concerns. The NWS Western Region is responsible for Stampede Pass: so they are the ones to contact. They have a web page to leave comments on:
The director of the NWS Western Region is Grant Cooper (grant.cooper at noaa.gov)