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Weather Information for Surface Transportation: Research at WTI
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  1. Weather Information for Surface Transportation: Research at WTI Contact: Xianming Shi, Ph.D. Program Manager, Winter Maintenance & Effects Western Transportation Institute Phone: (406) 994-6486 Email:

  2. WIST Projects at WTI • WeatherShare – Caltrans • Evaluation of the UDOT Weather Operations/RWIS Program – UDOT • Greater Yellowstone Regional Traveler and Weather Information System– MDT • # SAFE Evaluation - UND • Safe Passage – MDT/UTC • Development of a Surface Transportation Weather Decision Support Tool and Strategic Plan for Improved Highway Operations in Montana - UTC • Winter Surface Condition Forecasting - UTC • Impacts of Weather on Rural Highway Operations – UTC/Showcase • Development of a Roadway Weather Severity Index – UTC/Showcase • Assess Caltrans RWIS Devices and Related Sensors – Caltrans • Validating the Wet Percent Time for California - Caltrans

  3. WeatherShare Vision (2003) • A surface transportation weather application • Allow users to view a compilation of all available road weather data from various sources in Northern California • Greatly increasing the efficiency of situation assessments for various purposes

  4. WeatherShare Characteristics • Leveraging resources • Road weather data sharing and integration • Weather data standardization and quality control • An easy-to-maintain, cost-effective product powered by an open-source web platform (Linux/Apache + Perl + MySQL + PHP) • Scalable, interactive map displays powered by the SVG technology • Customizable, individualized user interfaces powered by the PHP Smarty template system • Database-driven web pages powered by the MySQL technology

  5. Conclusions • WeatherShare has served as a regional showcase and proof-of-concept for the national priority: better weather info. for surface transportation. • Due to the involvement of multiple stakeholders and the complexity of institutional and technical issues, it is important to develop partnerships among organizations in order to promote the successful integration of road and weather data from various sources. • In building a successful ITS system that can meet the users’ needs, it is crucial to involve the users and stakeholders from its very early stages of design and development and throughout its lifecycle.

  6. Evaluation of Utah’s Weather Operations/RWIS Program

  7. Overview of Utah’s Program • State-of-the-art TOC deployed in preparation for the 2002 Winter Olympics • Staffed Meteorologists • Real-time inputs • Both urban and rural • Salt Lake City found that they saved $16.70 for every $1.00 spent on ATMS

  8. Maintenance Operations Meteorologists TOC Operations Utah’s Weather Program and Winter Maintenance • Constantly evolving • More accurate forecasts • Localized knowledge • Benefits for winter maintenance crews: • More prepared • More efficient • Proactive response • Increase LOS

  9. State-of-the-Practice:Snow and Ice List Serve Survey • Focus: • Weather forecasts aiding winter maintenance in North America • Use of localized, area specific forecasts (benefits and experience) • Contacts included: • Maintenance Managers, Directors, Superintendents, Engineers, Area Supervisors and Technologists • Total of 31 contacts from 19 states and 4 provinces • 68% U.S. State DOT • 13% U.S. City Agency • 9% Canadian Provincial or Regional Agency • 10% Canadian City Agency

  10. States and Provinces Contacted

  11. Research Findings • All participants use forecasting for winter maintenance operations • Including localized, area-specific forecasts • Some respondents felt RWIS services counted as localized, area-specific forecasts • Most common service providers: • Northwest Weathernet (27%) • Meridian (20%) • Meteorologix (13%) • World Weatherwatch (10%) • Accuweather (10%)

  12. Research Findings • Most agencies (52%) have been receiving customized forecasts for less than 5 years

  13. Summary • Benefits of localized, area specific weather forecasts implemented in TMCs: • More accurate forecasts (microclimate knowledge) • Advanced warning of storm conditions • Better response time, planning, and scheduling of staff • Knowledge of pavement temperatures • Knowledge of precipitation type and amount expected • Better use of chemical product (deciding when to use) • Timely forecast and access to forecaster • Cost effective

  14. Lewistown Cold Regions Rural Transportation Test-bed

  15. Questions?

  16. Temperatures from Stations Reporting within the Past Hour

  17. Wind Readings from Stations Reporting within the Past Hour

  18. Data Can be Viewed in Context

  19. Alerts/Thresholds Defined by Authorized Users

  20. Other System Features • Automatically push road weather information to the user every 5 minutes • Use a map display that permits the user to zoom into, zoom out of, or pan into the area of interest • Allow the user to turn on/off various data layers on the interactive map display

  21. Other System Features (Cont’d) • Apply quality control procedures for all the real-time reporting stations • Allow the user to track historical data for a period of up to one year from present • Backup the road weather data on a daily basis and implement a backup mechanism for the server as well