The cost to operate and maintain UDOTs TI Weather Program is about $140,000 per year.

The UDOT TI communications technology has greatly increased the ability for weather information to be disseminated in real-time and serve the public’s needs

Made Public Date

Summary Information

In June 2012 USDOT finalized Version 3.0 of the Best Practices for Road Weather Management report. This report contains 27 case studies of systems in 22 states that improve roadway operations under inclement weather conditions. Each case study has six sections including a general description of the system, system components, operational procedures, resulting transportation outcomes, implementation issues, as well as contact information and references.

The previous report, Best Practices for Road Weather Management Version 2.0 presented 30 case studies from municipal and state transportation agencies. At this point, those solutions are either mainstreamed or have been surpassed by even better solutions. The Version 3.0 report captures the state-of-the-art, presenting 27 all-new practices that build upon these agencies’ previous successes.

One case study includes the traveler information program in Utah. The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) endeavors to provide timely, accurate and consistent weather-related traveler information so that travelers can make informed travel decisions. In response to this mission, UDOT has started the Traveler Information (TI) Weather program to provide the public with high quality road-specific forecasts before weather events, and timely road condition observations during and after events. Through human-powered forecasting, condition reporting and partnering with other agencies, this program equips travelers with road weather information, helping them to make safe travel choices.

System Components: The TI Weather program consists of three contracted meteorologists located in UDOT’s Traffic Operations Center (TOC). TI meteorologists distribute working hours among themselves to fully cover hazardous weather events. They work alongside the TOC’s maintenance and operations weather forecasters (who are also contractors), but serve public motorists specifically. There are two products they provide to the public:

  • Road weather impact forecasts
  • Road condition reports

These products are available on the UDOT Traffic website, smartphone app, Twitter account, and on the 511 phone line.
TI meteorologists also provide customer service to public motorists with travel weather questions. Other duties include assisting with internal weather briefings for traffic operations personnel and compiling road weather data from each storm for post-event reviews. The program is joint-managed by the Weather Operations Manager and Traveler Information Manager.

System Operations: Road weather forecasts focus on expected travel impact resulting from upcoming weather. These graphics accompany text forecasts and are posted as a Road Weather Alert on the UDOT Traffic website and app. Each segment of Utah’s state highways receives a manually-composed forecast, which provides details pertinent to travelers. The TI Meteorologists also record 511 messages which explain upcoming impacts in a way travelers can understand.

An important and unique aspect of pre-storm messaging is collaboration with the local National Weather Service (NWS) forecast office located in Salt Lake City. Forecasters from both agencies ensure the message is consistent between both agencies' advisory products so that the public is not receiving conflicting forecasts from multiple agencies. NWS products are more visible by media and public, and in this way, the message of travel impacts can reach a much larger audience than UDOT may be able to on its own.

Road condition reports are updated hourly from the TOC and at least twice daily from plow operators in the field. Plow operator reports are favored for their on-the-ground accuracy, but they lack the timeliness the public demands. Plow operations requires a high level of focus on safety and snow/ice mitigation, especially during hazardous and changing conditions, and reporting conditions becomes a lower priority. Utilizing in-field sensors, cameras, radar, forecasting models and direct communication with field personnel, the TI meteorologist populates these reports at a high frequency for UDOT’s TI outlets. UDOT also plans to initiate a citizen reporting program in the near future.

System Cost

UDOT Traveler Information Weather Program - Operations & Maintenance $140,000 per year.