811 A Quality Assessment of Weather and Pavement Forecasts at Racetracks

Wednesday, 9 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Crystal Burghardt, NCAR, Boulder, CO; and M. Chapman, S. D. Drobot, and S. Linden

Strategic and tactical forecasting of surface weather conditions accurately and in a timely manner is crucial to the automobile racing community. Studies have shown that when the pavement temperature increases the tires on the vehicle expand vertically which equates to less available surface area and less grip on the pavement surface. The prototype Track Weather Forecast System (TWFS) ingests meteorological data and produces meteorological forecasts at user-defined racetrack locations and lead times.

A quality assessment of the TWFS was performed from October of 2011 through November of 2012 at various racetrack sites across the United States. Forecasted values of air temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, and pavement temperature were analyzed at each site during each race weekend. In an effort to verify the accuracy of the TWFS forecasts, an analysis was performed to measure how the values of the forecasts differ from the values of the observations. Verification analyses included correlations between the forecasted and observed values, mean absolute error calculations, and distribution comparisons. The effects of changes in solar radiation, due to the changing seasons and fluctuating cloud cover, were also examined for this study. The results of this analysis will be important in better understanding the current limitations of the system which will likely lead to modifications and improvements to the TWFS.

The benefits of better pavement specific forecasts do not stop at the racing community. Weather applications specific to non-winter road maintenance, construction, and solar energy users may also be improved through the results of this research.

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