Pilots who have been flying for more than 20 years or so can remember when FSS offered a different service than merely reading forecasts and reports. Instead of sitting at a computer terminal with headset plugged into an 800 number phone line, the FSS specialist in years past was often by himself in a small office on an airport. And the office had windows. The specialist could not only look out at the runway, he could look at the sky. At most stations the FSS specialist made the official weather observations, noting visibility, cloud cover, wind direction and speed, temperature and dew point. He could note cumulus clouds building on the horizon, listen for thunder, or notice fog forming in the distance. And because the same person tracked the weather day in and day out for many years at the same station, he became pretty good at predicting the local and regional weather, no matter what the official forecasts said.