First, an in-depth literature review was conducted to synthesize the current practices in developing winter severity index. The literature review helped the research team identify potential variables that need to be included in NeWINS. A rigorous data collection effort was undertaken to create a ten-year database in the state of Nebraska. Variables included, for example, are storm type (light snow, moderate snow or heavy snow event), air and road surface temperatures, and wind conditions. Meteorological data are obtained from the High Plains Regional Climate Center’s Automated Weather Data Network (AWDN), the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) and the Meteorological Data Assimilation Ingest System (MADIS). NeWINS is an event driven index that was derived for the Nebraska Department of Roads (NDOR) districts across the state. The index applied statistical analyses to the collected database and developed a mathematical formula that can be used to measure winter severity for each district. To validate the developed winter severity index, real‑time case studies will be conducted by applying the index to the 2016-17 winter season. While the 2016-17 season will not be completed by the time of this presentation, preliminary results and observations will be presented.
It is expected that developing the winter severity index for the state of Nebraska would help both local and state transportation agencies to efficiently allocate resources during adverse weather events, while balancing safety, mobility, and available budget. Furthermore, the theoretical and practical contributions provided by NeWINS can be used by other local, state and federal agencies to improve their performance measurement practices.