The Nexrad Radar System as a Tool in Highway Traffic Management

The NEXt Generation Weather RADar (NEXRAD) program is a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, and Department of Transportation for the purpose of defining, procuring, and installing a network of Doppler radars throughout the United States. The radar has been designated the WSR-88D by these agencies.

The first phase of this project concentrated on gaining access to data from the Seattle WSR-88D radar. This succeeded through the cooperation and combined efforts of the University of Washington's Department of Atmospheric Sciences (DAS) and the cognizant federal agency, the local office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service (NOAA/NWS). Consequently, NEXRAD Information Dissemination Service (NIDS) Level III data were received and archived continuously by the DAS and were available for study in this project via Internet connection, computer disk, or tape.

In Phase II of this project, the use of the NEXRAD data for application to ground transportation systems was examined. The ability to derive traffic-based weather products from the NEXRAD radar measurements was established. Indices to characterize weather-related driving conditions were developed. Data on traffic flow for the I-5 Marysville to Tacoma corridor were obtained and combined with the radar-derived traffic indices. In addition to data access, the investigation examined the nature of the algorithms used by NOAA/NWS to produce the various NIDS products and developed an algorithm for point rainfall estimation that accounts for storm motion. Concepts of a storm detection, tracking, and forecasting algorithm were established as the means for future analysis and demonstrations.
Publication Date: 
Saturday, March 1, 1997
Publication Number: 
WA-RD 416.1
Last modified: 
10/12/2016 - 15:41
Thomas A. Seliga.
Washington State Transportation Center (TRAC)
Number of Pages: 
Algorithms, Data collection, Doppler radar, Ground transportation, Highway traffic control, Precipitation (Meteorology), Radar, Rainfall, Real time control, Traffic flow, Weather conditions, Weather radar.