Weather Services for Sustainable Winter Road Maintenance Operations Webinar
- Weather Services for Sustainable Winter Road Maintenance Operations
- The Narwhal Group
Each year, millions of dollars are invested in winter road operations by road agencies around the world. Since the effectiveness of these efforts is highly dependent on a variety of weather factors, at the very core of winter road operations are the environmental conditions that dictate maintenance methods, materials, and procedures. Furthermore, both global and localized weather patterns can vary considerably season to season and make planning for and executing winter road operations very challenging. In order to minimize the impact of highly variable weather factors, many road agencies enlist specialized road weather services. These services utilize the latest in atmospheric data and weather models and can significantly reduce the risk and negative impacts of winter weather. Road weather services vary considerably from traditional atmospheric forecasting. While atmospheric forecasting can provide some insight into potential issues, comprehensive road operations (both traffic management and winter maintenance) need to better understand the potential impacts of weather on the roadway surface. In recent years, the field of road weather forecasting and operations has evolved into its own area of expertise. In fact, ready access to robust and trustworthy weather information and forecasting has shown a marked improvement in the efficiency, effectiveness, and cost‐savings of winter maintenance operations (Ye et al., 2009a; Strong and Shi, 2008). Today, due to this noted benefit, impact‐based data and forecasts are commonly used by many road agencies. Furthermore, technologies used to observe and forecast the road environment are being rapidly developed and constantly improved. With ready access to wireless communications, observations collected from sensors on vehicles have become foundational for many agencies. Mobile‐based data also feed into software that provides maintenance decision support in real time to plow operators. Innovation is not isolated to mobile technologies though. Numerical weather prediction used by human forecasters is constantly improving, and traditional weather station installations continue to push the boundaries on what can be observed and how those observations can be used in intelligent ways to support many transportation agency activities. This presentation will provide a general discussion on road weather, emphasizing winter road maintenance operations, and looks at how road weather services can be an integral part of sustainable winter road operations. Also addressed are the variety of ways these services are delivered. Lastly, while weather varies around the world—from heavy, wet, and abundant snow in Japan to cold, dry snow in Alberta, Canada to freezing rain in the Czech Republic—this chapter will provide an internationally applicable discussion on these topics.
Chris’s involvement in the winter maintenance and road weather areas began nearly two decades ago, when he became the day-to-day manager of the Aurora Program pooled fund study. He remained in this role from 2000 to 2014, overseeing the program’s expansion (in membership and mission) and completion of nearly 50 research efforts. He also serves as a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Winter Maintenance Committee (AHD65) and has served as a significant researcher, resource, reviewer, and overall contributor to this field for several years.
Over most of the past two decades, he has worked in transportation planning and advanced technologies as both a consultant and academic researcher. He holds a BS in Community and Regional Planning and MS in Transportation from Iowa State University. He has also served as an adjunct lecturer for Iowa State University’s Department of Civil, Construction and Environmental Engineering and the University of Iowa’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. His work experience covers a broad range of issues and clientele; including road weather, winter maintenance, transportation planning, advanced technologies, traffic safety, major investment studies, asset management, geographic information systems, and freight policy.
Chris currently serves as the Director of Business Development and Consulting Services for The Narwhal Group – a technology consulting firm that serves primarily the transportation sector with a variety of technical services to the highway operations , ITS, planning, research, maintenance, and road weather operations areas.