At the present time, FHWA is directing research and development for three major initiatives associated with surface transportation weather. These are the Maintenance Decision Support System (MDSS), the Clarus Initiative and Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII). MDSS is a tool that combines route-specific numerical weather forecasts with computerized winter maintenance rules of practice. The MDSS generates optimized treatment recommendations to assist transportation managers in making more informed decisions during adverse winter weather. This system has evolved to where the weather enterprise has begun to develop, integrate and deploy this new capability.
The Clarus Initiative has developed software to collect, quality check and make available Environmental Sensor Station (ESS) data from State, local and Provincial roadways across North America. To date, more than two dozen state, municipal and provincial transportation agencies are contributing their ESS data into Clarus. There is increasing interest by the weather enterprise in using these data within their road weather products.
VII is a promising technology where the sensors and operational systems on passenger vehicles could provide observed and inferred information on the state of the lower atmosphere and pavement surface. FHWA is working with a national laboratory on how to take advantage of these data on a national scale, to help provide high-resolution observations which could result in improved weather forecasts and warnings across the nation.
All of this work is promoted through structured marketing and training efforts. Two new courses were developed over the past year to raise awareness of the needs and capabilities across the transportation and meteorological communities. The first course, developed under the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) program, educates State and local Department of Transportation (DOT) staff about the products and services of the National Weather Service (NWS). The second course, developed under the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch, educates NWS forecasters on the needs and challenges faced by State and local DOT managers to keep roads safe and the economy moving.
This presentation will provide updates, additional details and future plans for these major surface transportation weather initiatives.