SICOP Talks Winter Ops

Episode 23: Is the wind blowing in Wyoming? High wind blow-over hazard warnings.

By Podcasts No Comments

One of the benefits of the Connected Vehicle Pilot Project is the ability to generate weather alerts including high wind blow over hazard warnings. This system is proving to be most helpful to commercial traffic along Interstate 80 through Wyoming. During last years Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting Rhonda Young made a presentation on this topic The material she shared is being revisited in this podcast.

Follow this link to see the presentation material WYDOT CV Pilot Weather Alerts

Read more about Rhonda Young at Click here

To listen to Rhonda’s TEDx Spokane 2019 talk on the coming transportation revolution Click here

Episode 22: EDC5 – Weather Responsive Management Strategies

By Podcasts No Comments

Weather Responsive Management Strategies is one of the rapid deployment initiatives that is part of the FHWA program Every Day Counts.  Every Day Counts is a program that helps states rapidly deploy proven but underutilized technologies. 

When it comes to managing the transportation system during adverse weather events there are three actors involved in making this a success. The maintenance operators who are performing the winter maintenance operations of plowing and applying chemicals to remove the snow and ice from the roads, the network operators who staff the traffic management centers and insure motorists have the most up to date information about the transportation network, and the motorists who actions or inactions can keep the network operating smoothly or tie it in knots.

Every Day Counts #5 – Weather Responsive Management Strategies is designed to demonstrate how road management strategies driven by data from the road users themselves can help keep the system operating smoothly.

Check out the Every Day Counts website
Click the link for more information about Weather Responsive Management Strategies
For more information on EDC5 Weather Responsive Management Strategies Contact our guest Roemer Alfelor at


Episode 21: Snow fence is a SAFE bet in blowing snow

By Podcasts No Comments

Controlling drifting snow has been a winter maintenance challenge for as long as there has been the desire to have mobility.  Departments of transportation have using these structures for many years to help keep blowing snow from the roadway.  One way to look at the effectiveness is how well they keep snow off the road and another is to see what positive benefit there is for the driver.  

On this episode we’re talking with Graduate Student Rachael Larson and Dr. Mohamed Ahmed of the University of Wyoming about a presentation made at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting on recently completed work looking at the safety effectiveness of snow fences in Wyoming based on vehicle crashes.  You can view this paper “19-05707 Quantifying the Safety Effectiveness of Snow Fence Implementations Based on Crash Severity and Snow Fence Type Utilizing Contemporary Statistical Analysis Methods” at the TRB Annual Meeting Online 2019 website at


Episode 20: TSMO365 – Weather or not

By Podcasts No Comments

Keeping the public moving in all weather conditions is an orchestrated dance between the maintenance forces, the network operators, and the public.  The actions of one influences the reactions of the others.  Road weather management strategies are employed by both the maintenance forces and the network operators independently or in unison to help mitigate the mobility challenges for the motorists to maintain a safe, reliable transportation system.  This is what we call Transportation System Management Operations every day of the year, rain or shine, or TSMO365.

SICOP talks Winter Ops with Steve Cook of the Michigan Department of Transportation, Chairman of the Community of Practice on Road Weather Management and member of the Committee on Transportation System Operations, Committee on Maintenance, and the SICOP Steering Committee.

For more about the Community of Practice on Road Weather Management Strategies click on the LINK 

or contact Steve Cook at


Episode 19: When the snow hits the fan – Emergency operations methodology

By Podcasts No Comments

Maintenance is used to responding to severe weather but when the storm escalates into a state of emergency maintenance becomes just one of the players addressing the event.  Clear Roads commissioned a project – Emergency Operations Methodology for Extreme Winter Storm Events.  SICOP Talks Winter Ops with the Principle Investigator, Jim Sullivan from the University of Vermont – Transportation Research Center and the best practices he uncovered during this project.  

For more information about Clear Roads and this project head over to the Clear Roads website at 

Read more about Jim Sullivan and his work at the University of Vermont – Transportation Research Center at



Episode 18: Just what has SICOP been up to? 2018 SICOP Year In Review

By Podcasts

SICOP exists to support member states in fulfilling their winter maintenance mission.  As one of AASHTOs Technical Service Programs we are supported through voluntary contributions made by state DOTs.  Throughout the year SICOP performs many different activities in this cause.  In this episode, SICOP Steering Committee Chair Steve Lund from the Minnesota DOT talks about the accomplishments of the program in 2018.   You can see the  2018 Year In Review publication at 2018 year in review.


Send comments directly to the SICOP Coordinator, Rick Nelson at or start a thread on the Snow & Ice Listserve

Episode 17: You can’t manage what you don’t measure

By Podcasts

You can’t manage what you don’t measure. Agencies have been performing winter maintenance in one manner or another for a hundred years. Measuring how well we’ve been doing is a much harder proposition largely because no two storms are alike and the fact that they come and go so quickly and often overlap. Our two guests on this episode are no strangers to winter maintenance; Steve Lund is the State Maintenance Engineer for the Minnesota DOT and Caleb Dobbins is the State Maintenance Engineer for the State of New Hampshire. Both states have well developed programs to measure how well they perform winter service. Listen in as we talk about levels of service and performance metrics in use today and how they are used to manage winter maintenance operations.

Send comments directly to the SICOP Coordinator, Rick Nelson at or start a thread on the Snow & Ice Listserve

Episode 16: Winter maintenance and the social sciences

By Podcasts

Why do travelers make the decisions they do during bad weather is a much more difficult question than many transportation agencies are geared up to answer.  The trinity of successful winter operations is the maintenance operation, the road weather, and the motorist.  Highway agencies have focused much resource on the maintenance operation and road weather but not so much on understanding why motorists do what they do.  

The National Academy of Sciences impaneled a project team to explore opportunities to integrate social and behavioral sciences in the weather enterprise during 2016-17.  I had the privilege and honor to serve on this panel co-chaired by Dr. William “Bill” Hooke, American Meteorological Society, and Dr. Ann Bostrom, University of Washington.  Our final report, Integrating Social and Behavioral Sciences within the Weather Enterprise, has implications for surface transportation.  

In this episode Dr. Hooke draws some parallels from his past experiences making the case that if we focus some more energy on the motorist we can have a better winter maintenance operation.

About our guest, Dr. William “Bill” Hooke:

Dr. Hooke has been involved in the atmospheric sciences since 1967 when he began working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). During his tenure at NOAA he was involved in many programs and research efforts.  In 2000 Dr. Hooke became a Senior Policy Fellow at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and directed the Policy Program from 2001 to 2013.  Today he serves as the AMS associate executive director.  He authored the book: Living on the Real World: How Thinking and Acting Like Meteorologists Will Help Save The Planet and blogs at Living on the Real World. 


Have comments? Send them directly to the SICOP Coordinator, Rick Nelson at or post them to our Facebook Group  AASHTO-Winter Operations Group


Episode 15: What’s the news from TRB?

By Podcasts

The Transportation Research Board is a lot more than the week long Annual Meeting that happens every January. Listen in as SICOP Talks Winter Ops with James Bryant, TRBs Maintenance and Preservation Engineer, as he shares whats on the calendar this next year for the TRB committees on Winter Maintenance and Surface Transportation Weather.

The TRB eNewsletter is another way to keep on top of all the activities and offerings of the TRB throughout the year. Anyone can subscribe through the link HERE

Want to take an active role in the winter committees, AHD65 Winter Maintenance and AH010 Surface Transportation Weather? Head over to My TRB and sign up as friend of the committee to get involved.

Send comments directly to the SICOP Coordinator, Rick Nelson at or start a thread on the Snow & Ice Listserve

Episode 14: Oral history of winter maintenance in the US

By Podcasts

How did the evolution of modern winter maintenance take place? What significant milestones ushered in the tools that make up the modern winter maintenance tool box?

Lee Smithson, formerly of the Iowa Department of Transportation and a past SICOP Coordinator, was one of the few individuals leading the charge that produced significant advancements in winter maintenance technologies. Listen in as SICOP Talks Winter Ops with Lee Smithson, as he shares his recollections on how we got where we are with winter maintenance in the US.

Some interesting and related links:
National Academy of Science Consensus Report, “Where the Weather Meets the Road

NCHRP 20-36 RRD 238: “1998 Scanning Review of European Winter Service Technology (1999)

Send comments to Rick Nelson, SICOP Coordinator
Start a discussion on the Snow and Ice List-Serve and reference this episode of SICOP Talks Winter Ops

To subscribe to the Snow and Ice List-serve click here