Atlanta Roads Lead to Annual Meeting Theme

As society urbanizes, weather impacts are exacerbated in sometimes-unfamiliar ways. Case in point: the snow, ice, and cold that paralyzed much of the southeastern United States this week. More specifically–and more germane to AMS members attending this year’s AMS Annual Meeting–delays caused by gridlock in Atlanta were being measured in days, not hours, and thousands of people were stranded in schools, stores, their cars, and other places that weren’t their homes.
The timing of this unfortunate event is appropriate, given the Annual Meeting’s theme of “Extreme Weather–Climate and the Built Environment: New Perspectives, Opportunities, and Tools.” Even before this week’s events, the meeting was going to be buzzing with discussions about all aspects of weather and climate impacts in urban areas. In the wake of events of this week, that buzz may turn into a roar.
One topic certain to elicit a storm of interest is road transportation–the most visible of the vital, weather-prone infrastructure systems in any urban area. At the Ninth Symposium on Policy and Socio-Economic Research, a session on Wednesday (4:00-5:30 PM, Room C107) titled “Observing Weather and Environment along the Nation’s Transportation Corridors” will feature a look at weather-observation sensors for cars, which offer “the potential of turning vehicles into moving weather stations to fill road weather observation gaps.” An equally salient presentation in that session will explore best practices for getting timely and accurate weather and climate information to transportation decision makers.
The 30th Conference on Environmental Information Processing Technologies will include a session on “Road Weather Applications” (Monday, 1:30-2:30 PM, Room C105). One talk will explore the Maintenance Decision Support System, which “blends existing road and weather data sources with numerical weather and road condition models in order to provide information on the diagnostic and prognostic state of the atmosphere and roadway.” Another presentation will analyze driver awareness during two 2013 winter storms in Utah to examine ways to improve communication of hazard information to the public.
The Second Symposium on Building a Weather-Ready Nation will have a session on “Innovative Partnerships in Public Outreach and Decision Support Services” (Tuesday, 3:30-5:30 PM, Georgia Ballroom 2). Included in that session will be an exploration of how the NWS and Federal Highway Administration are collaborating to improve communication and data sharing before, during, and after weather events that have a significant impact on transportation, public behavior, and emergency response. Another talk will take a broader view by examining ways to enhance nationwide environmental education and create a more weather-ready nation–a goal that this week’s events make clear remains of vital import.