ASU-ADOT partnership will provide real-time weather information

By

Skip Derra

With weather updates important to traffic flow and the safety of motorists, an innovative partnership between the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) and Arizona State University will provide real-time forecasts to those managing our highways. The partnership with utilize the expertise of ASU meteorology students.

Paul Panhans, a first-year meteorology student from ASU’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning and a U.S. Air Force veteran, will begin in January in ADOT’s Traffic Operations Center as the first intern from the new partnership. Panhans will help crews respond rapidly to winter storms and other weather challenges to clear highways and potentially prevent closures. He said his experience interning with the National Weather Service will allow him to work closely with that agency.

“I will liaise with the National Weather Service and add in my own work to provide ADOT with the best possible weather forecasting,” Panhans said. “I expect to be able to help with such things as visibility, wind and freezing precipitation.”

“This is an exciting step forward for public safety,” said Brent Cain, assistant director for ADOT’s Transportation Systems Management & Operations division. “This will allow us to have better information about weather conditions so we can more quickly determine how to deploy our crews and communicate with the public. All of that will make Arizona roads safer.”

Randy Cerveny, ASU President’s Professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning, said the setup also will allow top students to experience how meteorology can provide service to people in many areas.

“Most people only think of meteorologists on television, but by far most meteorologists work in settings like this one,” Cerveny said. “This is a real-world, real-time application of meteorology in a way that can help people all across Arizona.”