Section 4: Weather InformationAnchor: #i999547
NWS Products and Services
While NWS offices cover larger areas and tend to be regional, a good working relationship with their office and personnel can be helpful. They have trained expert staff and will provide more specific information upon request. The NWS Home Page is at http://weather.gov. Forecasts, radar, satellite, and graphical forecasts are available here. Caution should be taken when using any radar or satellite picture, since training and education are required to know exactly what is being shown.
Both the NWS and local news stations target a wide gamut of weather users, from agricultural to marine and aviation interests. As a consequence, they may not be specific enough for some maintenance supervisors who have more advanced equipment available to use in their snow and ice control efforts. Equipment such as Roadway Weather Information System (RWIS) stations and de-icing and anti-icing capabilities require more specific forecasts.Anchor: #i999566
Internet Web Sites
Internet web sites are becoming more advanced as technology becomes available. It is important to become familiar with what is available for advance preparations as the winter months approach. Knowing how and where to access these sites may be of benefit during other times of the year, as well. Some of the more common sites and the information they provide:
http://www.accuweather.com/wx/index.htm – Accuweather – Forecasts, radar & satellite
http://www.intellicast.com/ – Intellicast – Forecasts, radar & satellite
http://www.wunderground.com/ – Underground Weather – Forecasts, radar, satellite
http://www.rap.ucar.edu/weather/radar/ – Real-Time Weather Data – Forecasts, radar, satellite
http://www.mesonet.ttu.edu/ – Weather forecasts and data for West Texas.
These sites require Internet access and are free of charge.Anchor: #i999612
Private Forecasting Services
There are also weather forecast services available through private companies. While these services are used in other parts of the country, generally they have not proven effective for TxDOT. If private forecasting services are deemed necessary, they should be contracted through established contracting procedures.Anchor: #i999622
Roadway Weather Information System
A Roadway Weather Information System (RWIS) is a computerized system that provides real-time weather information with specialized equipment installed by private companies. A variety of gauges and meters can be installed to record and monitor air and dew temperatures, humidity, rainfall, wind speed and direction, pavement temperatures, ground temperatures, visibility, etc. The type of equipment you need is dependent upon what you are trying to accomplish. There are a number of venders capable of providing this equipment.
RWIS is used in varying degrees to support specialized anti-icing and de-icing equipment. RWIS may also be used as an individual, stand-alone weather station in an effort to provide a safe travel way during winter conditions while keeping traffic delays to a minimum. See Chapter 9, Alternate Methods, for more information on the various types of anti-icing and de-icing equipment.
Blackberries and Smart Phones have various weather apps available. Check with your local district regarding any policies concerning downloadable apps.