The High-Tech Approach to Digging Out

Just in time for winter's worst, Montgomery County, Md., unveiled a new Storm Operation Center that makes it the first to use the Web-based forecasting...
by | January 23, 2008

Just in time for winter's worst, Montgomery County, Md., unveiled a new Storm Operation Center that makes it the first to use the Web-based forecasting system Weatherbug to plan for severe weather conditions including snow, heavy rainstorms and flooding. The county uses Weatherbug's geographic information system to superimpose snowplow routes over weather maps, giving it the ability to move resources, staff and equipment to areas most impacted. With the center's system of more than 650 tracking stations and cameras, and its two-, three- and four-hour forecasts, managers can anticipate needs a few hours in advance of a storm. The tracking stations record 27 different data points that include temperature, precipitation, wind speed and wind direction. Overseen by the county's Department of Public Works and Transportation, the new Storm Operation Center also features a wall-mounted monitor that streams video of road and traffic conditions from the county's 185 real-time traffic cameras; a communication system that lets them monitor radio traffic from police and fire units, as well as road crews; and an internal Web-based snow program that allows staff to track progress on snow routes and monitor air and pavement temperatures countywide. To learn more, call the county DPWT at 240-777-7170.