Evaluation of the Availability and Accuracy of the Virginia Department of Transportation's Road Weather Information System

Report No: 98-R21

Published in 1997

About the report:

The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) has road weather information system (RWIS) stations at 40 locations throughout the state. Each station consists of equipment to measure and record meteorological data, and from one to five sensors to measure certain pavement and subsurface conditions. Until recently, VDOT had two contracts in place to: (1) maintain and repair the RWIS station equipment; and (2) provide twice-daily 24-hour weather forecasts. These contracts have expired, and VDOT is now preparing to readvertise them. The purpose of this study is to assess the quality of those services, and to identify, where possible, performance measures that should be included in future contracts. The study concludes that maintenance service contracts that do not include performance measures with enforceable penalties result in inadequate maintenance and unreliable data. While this study does not recommend specific performance measures or penalties, examples from other states' contracts are included. The accuracy of surface temperature and precipitation forecasts at two stations is reviewed. The results indicate that although they do not guarantee forecast accuracy, accurate and available surface sensor data are necessary to provide reliable surface temperature forecasts. The study recommends that contracts for weather forecasts include the requirement that VDOT be notified prior to important precipitation events. Examples of suggested events and notification lead times from other states' contracts are included in the study.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Other Authors

Robert A. Hanson, Daniel S. Roosevelt

Last updated: December 15, 2023

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