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Ice Watch trials new forecast modelling to improve service accuracy

Ice Watch is carrying out specialised trials with weather forecaster MeteoGroup to help pinpoint even more precisely when car parks and roads need gritting.

The ‘cycle and bridge model’ research, which will continue until the end of the year, allows Ice Watch to compare the different types of forecasts so it can analyse the likelihood of different thicknesses of tarmac or concrete surfaces becoming icy during cold weather.

The results, if they show a marked differential, will enable Ice Watch to offer customers an even more precise and cost-effective service.

MeteoGroup, which also provides forecasts to the BBC, will be measuring the surface temperature of traditional road surfaces, as well as those of cycle paths and bridges (hence the moniker ‘cycle and bridge model’!).

The theory is that the surfaces of ‘normal’ roads are deeper than those of multi-storey car parks, bridges and cycle paths and thus retain heat for longer – making the formation of ice less likely than on a thinner construction.

The bulk of the relevant technical information is gleaned from Road Weather Information Systems – glorified roadside weather stations – and combined with a number of other data sources, to come up with an accurate prediction.

Ice Watch is assessing the accuracy of the new system by comparing results from both the traditional and the cycle and bridge models on ten per cent of its sites this year.

If the trials suggest offering differentiated forecasts will be beneficial, Ice Watch will be able to provide even more specific projections based on whether clients operate multi-storey car parks, roads, bridges or cycleways.

Ice Watch’s in-house meteorologist Timo Strom explained: “This is just one example of how we work very closely with MeteoGroup on initiatives which will benefit our customers.

“On each of the forecasts in this trial we can compare the three models – cycle, bridge and road – and see which would be better suited for us. Most of our sites are car parks, so will typically be a bit colder than a road.

“This means we can then tailor a specific forecast depending on the types of surface on a site – road, car park, multi storey or bridge.

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