High-tech weather reports for highways
MANAGEMENT OF NEW ZEALAND’S STATE HIGHWAY network in bad weather is getting “state-of-the-art” help in a new roadweather forecasting service.
It is, says the MetService’s Peter Fisher, an “innovative international solution – the rst, year-round forecasting service that’s been tailored to NZ’s unique road-weather conditions.”
e service will see Finnish weather forecasting company Foreca process data taken from MetService’s forecasts, its network of automated roadside weather stations and mobile measurement platforms – including 360-degree photographs – along with high-resolution topography, road metadata and road modelling.
In a rst for the NZ road network, selected mountain passes will be modelled every 30 metres. e Lewis Pass and Porters Pass will be the rst to see this level of forecasting, with more areas to follow.
Forecasts at reduced resolution will be provided for the remainder of the SH network, delivered several times per day, every day.
e high-resolution road-weather forecasts come courtesy of a ve-year deal that the NZ Transport Agency has entered into with MetService, starting this month.
NZTA says that the services will provide “considerably enhanced, year-round, high-resolution insights into the weather conditions across the NZ State Highway road network.
e constant indepth forecasting is important, says Fisher, the MetService’s business development manager, key accounts: “It’s not just about winter weather. e weather in NZ can impact the safety of road users at any time of year.”
e service promises to “deliver more accurate and timely forecasting, particularly on NZ’s weather-impacted mountain passes and problematic sites with histories of weather disruptions,” says the NZTA’s Malcolme Flattery.
e enhanced information will enable more comprehensive guidance from MetService to NZTA and the contractors responsible for road management and maintenance.
“ e new services promise to further enhance the quality of decisionsupport provided by MetService, and will help improve road safety and the e cient management of the road assets including deployment of de-icing agents and road maintenance crews in the eld,” says Flattery, who is a senior project manager with NZTA’s Highways & Network Operations Group.
“ is is state-of-the-art road-weather information. It re ects technological advances in both the collection and processing of the data.”
Foreca has an international reputation for data accuracy and innovation in functionality and data presentation. It was contracted by MetService after a comparative performance evaluation last winter/ spring, and a live systems trial held last November on the Desert Road.
Foreca’s Tiina Asula says that the service will employ “a number of cutting-edge technologies, such as fusing mobile measurement data and sophisticated image analysis to automatically interpret roadside features that a ect the thermal properties of the pavement surface.”
Photo Bevan Percival, NZTA