Planet M logo

In Action Today

Road Weather Management

To improve the ability to forecast and monitor road conditions, as well as to inform motorists of conditions and closures, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) launched the Road Weather Information System (RWIS) in 2007.

Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS) provide a variety of weather data to MDOT operations and maintenance personnel, including temperature, barometric pressure, precipitation and snow depth, wind speed, visibility, and frost depth, along with still photos of the nearby roadway, in addition to traffic data collection.

Dynamic message signs (DMS) inform motorists of detour routes for roadway closures during inclement weather.

"With RWIS, we now have real-time access to data..., allowing us to provide improved service more efficiently and safely. The data has helped in unanticipated ways. For example, the Mackinac Bridge Authority has been using better forecast approaching wind conditions to assist with making decisions regarding bridge restrictions for motorists and maintenance."

—Dawn Gustafson, MDOT's Superior Region Traffic and Safety Engineer

Together, MDOT, Michigan State Police and local agencies use the RWIS system to better predict weather conditions that may lead to road closure, deploy maintenance resources efficiently, and communicate closures and detour routes to motorists in a timely manner.

Environmental Sensor Stations (ESS) Instrumentation

  • Frost Depth — real time access to frost depth data to implement/remove seasonal weight restrictions allows MDOT to provide improved service more efficiently and safely
  • Camera Images — real time images of current conditions
  • Atmosphere Data used by National Weather Service (NWS) to improve local forecast
  • Pavement Data — used by contracted company to provide a road pavement forecast and by maintenance staff to help refine maintenance decisions; provides a prediction of when the pavement may freeze
  • Traffic Data — used to determine current traffic speeds during winter events and provides MDOT with ability to evaluate historical data
  • Microwave Vehicle Detectors — a non-invasive vehicle detection unit capable of collecting traffic speed, occupancy and classification for multiple lanes with one unit.
  • Non-Invasive Pavement Sensors will provide pavement temperature and surface condition non-invasively.
  • IP Digital Camera — New cameras that provide a digital PTZ and have no moveable parts. New camera will help to eliminate issues with losing the camera presets.
  • IP Power Distribution Unit — All stations will be able to be powered cycled remotely to assist with trouble shooting.