2B.3 Road Surface Condition Forecasts based on Mobile Platform Observations

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 9:00 AM
611 (Washington State Convention Center )
Jonathan J. Rutz, NWS, Salt Lake City, UT; and C. Kahler and P. Heppner

For the past several years, the National Weather Service (NWS) Western Region Science Division has been generating road surface condition forecasts (roadcasts) at road weather information system (RWIS) sites across the United States. These hourly roadcasts are produced using the Model of the Environment and Temperature of Roads (METRo), which we provide with RWIS observations and official NWS forecasts. The availability of METRo roadcasts, internal to the NWS, has been welcomed by the field, and a number of training and case study presentations have been developed by local offices.

Environmental data from commercial mobile platforms are a new input source for METRo. The Mobile Platform Environmental Data (MoPED) processing system of Global Science & Technology (GST) qualifies and disseminates mobile platform observations to NWS as part of the National Mesonet Program (NMP). The qualification process removes underperforming mobile platforms from the disseminated data stream. These mobile data are now being used as inputs to the METRo, allowing for the production of roadcasts where road surface observations are typically unavailable (e.g., from an RWIS site). Mobile platform data is valuable information in many parts of the country, especially where RWIS sites are sparse and particularly across the West, where changes in elevation result in road conditions that vary dramatically over short distances.

This presentation will focus on the characteristics of METRo roadcasts driven by the GST MoPED observations, the value added to the forecast process, and how they compare to roadcasts initialized by stationary RWIS observations.

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