Weather could cloud Arcata/Eureka Airport service: Portion of landing system needs replacing

Flights into the Arcata/Eureka Airport may be delayed more than normal through Feb. 14.

Humboldt County Public Works Director Thomas Mattson said the glide slope portion of the landing system -- which helps to vertically guide pilots during inclement weather -- is out of service.

"This is an old piece of equipment belonging to the Federal Aviation Administration, and they informed us it wasn't working, so it will have to be replaced," Mattson said. "When the glide slope is fully functioning, clouds can be down to 200 feet. But with the instrument broken, clouds need to be at at least 700 feet to land."

With Humboldt County seeing its first significant rain since September, there could be low clouds settling in, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Ryan Aylward.

"We're going to see somewhere around 2 inches in the Humboldt area, and farther south toward Mendocino we'll see about 4 to 6 inches, with King Range and South Fork getting most of the rain," Aylward said.

Clouds will likely hover around 700 feet, but may drop lower, which could be a problem with the current equipment.

Monday will have more decent weather, followed by another storm setting in Tuesday and lasting through Thursday, according to Aylward.

"There could be moderate to heavy rain, but it's way out there, and the models are determining when the rain will come, but I'm confident it will rain," he said. "There's a pretty good front coming in, so it depends on timing, but it's likely there will be rain in that window."

Mattson said new equipment and specialized technicians are being flown in to fix the problem.

"Once the equipment is replaced, they'll test it with a flyover and if it passes we'll be back on," Mattson said. "We're expecting to have the repairs finished by next Friday."

Mattson said the county is letting people know about the repairs and possible delays so they can make alternative plans if needed.

"So far, we've had one cancellation in the last two days," he said. "I can't project how many flights will actually get canceled, but we have about six to eight flights a day --or 56 per week -- and any of those could be affected."