Winter storm index claims national ITS innovation award

ITD’s innovative winter storm performance index and tracking program received a national award last week as the nation’s best new innovative practice. Mobility Services Engineer Robert Koeberlein accepted the award on behalf of ITD and the development team Aug. 26 at the National Rural ITS conference in Minnesota.

The application of highway treatments before and during storm events largely is based on data captured at 100 RWIS sites throughout the state. Using empirical data analysis, ITD’s winter storm index measures the severity of weather storms and the duration of ice and snow on highways to establish measures for maintenance practices.

The index is a measure of ice and snow duration per unit of storm severity. That severity is based on wind speed, snow accumulation and surface temperature. Ice duration is defined as the length of time “grip,” or traction, falls below 0.6.

Data collected from the RWIS stations is used to determine parameters in the storm-index formula. Storm-index algorithms calculate:

1. Storm severity based on precipitation amounts, wind velocity and surface temperature
2. “Grip” recovery
3. Mobility index that shows how well wet pavements were maintained during sub-freezing conditions

ITD’s revolutionary process garnered national and international attention after it was introduced at the Western Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials conference in 2012.

As a result of that presentation, ITD received requests for additional information (with the intent of possible implementation) from 14 states, including Kansas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Nevada, Wyoming, Maryland, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, as well as several universities and research centers.

Colorado and Wyoming officials are customizing the process for use in their states.

The indexing model also elicited a request in March 2013 from the Weather Programs Ministry of the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (BCMTI):

Vaisala, a partner in data collection for ITD’s Winter Storm Indexing, has been requested to give presentations at Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) meetings in Ireland, Japan and Andorra this summer.

Photo: Robert Koeberlein (left) accepted the ITS award Aug. 26 from Steve Albert.

Published 9-6-13