Improving Winter Road Weather Alerts on Highway Dynamic Message Signs

  • A blizzard warning appears in yellow text on a Dynamic Message Sign.
  • The user interface screen of the IRIS Road Weather Management System shows a map of a portion of the highway under consideration for a DMS alert message on the right two-thirds of the screen and an operator panel on the left third of the screen.
  • DMS Image
Status:  Complete
Report Date:  04/02/2021


MnDOT maintains nearly 400 dynamic message signs (DMS) along the state’s highways. The Regional Transportation Management Center displays real-time messages to warn motorists of congestion, roadwork or an incident ahead that could be hazardous or cause a delay. DMS use to convey weather alerts has been limited to manually-entered blizzard alerts and other very isolated winter conditions. MnDOT has been concerned about the timeliness of weather messages and the chance that such messages could be overused, possibly leading motorists to take them less seriously. To make winter road weather alerts most effective, researchers developed a software interface to acquire weather alerts from the National Weather Service’s system and translate them into text messages for DMS. The system selects the appropriate DMS locations and posts the alert message until it expires. Operators can return to manually posting or removing alerts at any time. MnDOT intends to begin using this system for blizzard and snow squall alerts. The automatic option for DMS messages will enhance the timeliness and accuracy of DMS alerts for severe weather and allow RTMC operators to attend to other work.

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