RWIS - A Partnership Effort
The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public
Facilities (ADOT&PF) highly encourages partnerships with other
agencies and private entities to support the Road Weather
Information System (RWIS) program. Partners help advance the RWIS
program by contributing sensors and other resources, providing
power and communication, and integrating data networks for the
environmental sensor stations (ESS) 1
on remote stretches of highway. Partnerships significantly expand
the RWIS program to support a wide range of activities, including
traveler safety, forecasting, and research.
- Alaska Gateway School District: The Dot Lake
School provides ADOT&PF access into their GCI Satellite network
to operate an ESS at Dot Lake. The satellite network provides
reliable communications in a remote section of the Alaska Highway
- Alaska Railroad: The Alaska Railroad (ARR)
Corporation Railroad needs the RWIS data to supplement their high
winds and avalanche forecasting program (http://www.akrr.com/wthr/). The ARR funded the ESS
near Whittier Tunnel for high wind forecasts. The ARR also helped
with the right of way for the Seward Highway Divide RWIS site for
wind and avalanche weather.
- City & Borough of Juneau: The City &
Borough of Juneau provides power to an ESS located on Egan Drive in
Juneau in exchange for the RWIS data.
- City of Petersburg: The Petersburg/Wrangell
Resource Advisory Committee and the Petersburg Search & Rescue
constructed a remote weather station located on Mitkof Highway to
provide marine weather for small craft en route to Wrangell. The
City of Petersburg contacted ADOT&PF to upgrade this weather
site into a standard ESS and then integrate it with ADOT&PF's
RWIS program. This included installing a camera to give small craft
users an ocean view toward Wrangell and providing the information
on the RWIS public website.
- Federal Aviation Administration: The Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) supports the RWIS program to access
camera images of mountain passes. The FAA operates a statewide
network of weather cameras (http://akweathercams.faa.gov/) to support Alaska
aviation. Many of the RWIS ESS are located in mountain passes.
Pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) cameras allow multiple views and can provide up
to 8 images. In addition to providing ground transportation views,
ADOT&PF provides 2-4 different viewing angels of the skyline
for aviation purposes. The FAA reciprocates this service by
providing resources, such as power to support the ESS.
- National Weather Service: The National Weather
Service (NWS) enthusiastically supports the RWIS program in various
ways. The NWS has donated tipping bucket rain gauges and stream
height sensors to support the Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center
flood warnings (http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/). NWS incorporates the
ESS observations into their local forecast and weather warning
programs. ADOT&PF reciprocates the partnership by integrating
the NWS observation and forecast products into their internal and
public RWIS websites.
- National Resource & Conservation Service:
ADOT&PF coordinates with the Department of Commerce National
Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on integrating sensors to
support the NRCS snow, water, and climate network (http://ambcs.org/).
Communication and power are the two most significant challenges on
remote sensing. This partnership will significantly reduce the cost
of data collection.
- University of Alaska - Fairbanks: The
University of Alaska - Fairbanks Geophysical Institute (UAF GI) has
donated various meteorological sensors to collocate with ESS in
Northern Alaska. The RWIS data helps support the UAF Geophysical
Institute's research on the properties and processes which occur
within snow, ice, and permafrost, their role in the shaping of the
landscape, and their influence on climate and impact on the
biosphere. RWIS data also supports efforts within the Water &
Environmental Research Center (http://www.uaf.edu/water/) and the International
Arctic Forecast Center (http://www.iarc.uaf.edu/index.php).
- United States Air Force: The 11th Operational
Weather Squadron (11OWS) at Elmendorf AFB and Eielson AFB
incorporates RWIS information into their forecasting program for
aviation and ground operations. ADOT&PF works with the 11OWS to
identify mutually beneficial ESS locations.
- United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest
Service: The USDA Forest Service provided a special permit
to install an ESS at Turnagain Pass, Seward Highway, on the USDA
land in exchange for using the RWIS communication channels. This is
another example where both agencies received substantial benefit at
a relatively small cost by establishing partnerships.
- United States General Services Administration:
The United States General Services Administration (US GSA) allowed
ADOT&PF access and resources to install an ESS near the
US/Canada Border on the Alaska Highway. Since this is a security
sensitive location, the GSA and ADOT&PF signed a Memorandum of
Agreement allowing access and to share power and communication
lines from their building.
- Private entities: Many private entities have
donated resources to support ESS along remote stretches of highway.
For example, Lesnoi Inc. on Kodiak Island has provided property to
install an ESS near Pasagshak Road. Sometimes the States Right of
Way does not extend far enough from the road to allow ESS
installations. Lodges in the past have provided power to support
- Other agencies: There are many agencies that
can use RWIS data for local forecasting, research or planning of
events. ADOT&PF provides an easy accessible file transfer
protocol (FTP) site that allows access to the raw data files. Some
agencies will use the FTP data and process it into their own
software programs. Others will provide links to the roadweather.alaska.gov on their
Some agencies collocate equipment to take advantage of the ESS
power and communications. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game
use an ESS near Haines to install an antenna used to collect fish
data. Horizon Lines of Alaska use ESS to collocate remote frequency
identification (RFID) transponders used to track commercial vehicle
freight along the Seward, Glenn and Parks Highway. The US Fish
& Wildlife Service use an ESS on the Sterling Highway to
collocate an antenna used to support a moose crossing study.
International Partnership - Clarus
The Clarus Initiative (Clarus is Latin for "clear")
is a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) initiative to develop
and demonstrate an integrated surface transportation weather
observing, forecasting and data management system, and to establish
a partnership to create a Nationwide Surface Transportation Weather
Observing and Forecasting System. The objective of Clarus is to
provide information to all transportation managers and users to
alleviate the effects of adverse weather (e.g., fatalities,
injuries and delays).
The ADOT&PF is partnering with Environment
Canada, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation, British Columbia
Ministry of Transportation, Yukon Territory Department of Highways
and Public Works, and the National Weather Service are coordinating
efforts to develop a Concept of Operations (ConOps) for an
Alaska-Canada Road Weather Portal for the Clarus Initiative
regional demonstration. The ConOps shall cover the Alaska-Canada
Highway and major access routes in Alaska, British Columbia,
Alberta and Yukon Territory. The ConOps vision includes a road
weather portal graphical user interface that leverages the
real-time quality checking capabilities of the Clarus System. The
Clarus System will collect data from ADOT&PF's RWIS and
Canada's Road Weather Information Network (RWIN), which is
synonymous to Alaska's RWIS program. ADOT&PF expects the ConOps
to be completed in early 2008.