Consider new weather tool technology

Ward County, North Dakota (KXNET) As the saying goes, “nothing is certain but death and taxes,” and in North Dakota, you can add winter snowfall to that list.

Forecasters are currently expecting more snow next week. So the North Dakota Highway Department is working on weather tools to help keep neighbors safer during extreme weather.

Ward County engineer Dana Larsen has proposed a new weathering system to help people in rural areas learn more quickly about road conditions and help the Highway Department understand where it will be most affected.

Even in a large county like Ward, not all weather conditions are the same everywhere, Larsen said.

He said, “It’s a beautiful day, the sun is out in Minot, there’s a bit of a breeze, but it’s not bad, the sun is a little bit out. On the road, all of a sudden the snow was sticking to the road and it was icy, and we thought it was beautiful outside, they were in a completely different situation.”

The proposal, if approved, would mean Ward County would pay $30,000 over three years to add four different cameras.

Weather monitoring tools will be able to measure air and road surface temperatures and provide some predictive calculations.

It can also provide vision to highway departments in more rural areas, helping them better understand blowing snow and road conditions to make decisions about highway closures and the need for snow removal during our major storms.

Some county leaders say the plan is too expensive and likely won’t add much benefit on top of a system the state already uses called NDAWN.

“It’s a good idea. But it’s like everything else we do. When you tie yourself to a supplier, that’s what we’ll do, pay them for the necessary equipment and stuff, and once You get into them, and the price of these things goes up,” Ward County Commissioner John Fjeldahl said.

But the highway department said they now use multiple resources and must drive to neighboring cities during the storm to determine road conditions.

“What we’re looking at is making better decisions, or helping us understand what’s happening in rural counties during snow or icing events,” Larson said.

County commissioners have rejected the plan for now, but they said they are not ruling out other options for future weather alerts.

The highway department is looking at NDawn’s camera weathering system and a grant that could help keep costs down.

You can track road and weather conditions anytime on our KX Storm Team app.

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