Confidence in three-day weather forecasting has increased to such a degree that it could soon help save highways authorities significant amounts of cash on gritting runs and proactive winter service, Highways understands.
After meeting with the MET Office, chief executive of the Institute of Highway Engineers, Richard Hayes, said that confidence levels had reached around 85% on three-day forecasting. A figure a MET Office spokesman confirmed to Highways.
This level is approximately where 24-hour forecasting was 10-15 years ago. One-day forecasting is currently around the 96% level, Mr Hayes said.
‘Traditionally in roads we have relied on a 24-hour forecast and have sometimes been unable to respond in time. Increased confidence in three-day forecasting has led airports such as Heathrow to implement precautionary and proactive planning and avert or minimise disruption. These moves have saved them hundreds of thousands of pounds. This model would apply equally to road and rail but needs to be demonstrated,’ Mr Hayes said.
He added that ‘changing the attitude will be a challenge’ given the risks involved in winter service, ‘but it could be a game changer in on being better prepared for major events’.
‘The IHE is looking at the training models we provide and seeking to increase awareness of the high degree of confidence we can now have in three-day forecasts.’