February 4, 2023
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Considering new weather tools technology

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WARD COUNTY, N.D. (KXNET) The saying is ‘nothing is certain except death and taxes’, and in North Dakota, you can add winter snow to that list.

Right now, forecasters are expecting more deep snow next week. So, The North Dakota Highway Department is looking into weather tools that will help keep neighbors even safer during extreme weather.

Ward County Engineer Dana Larsen, is proposing a new weathering system to help notify people in rural areas even faster about road conditions and help the highway department understand which places have been hit the hardest.

Larsen says even in a large county like Ward, not all places are created equally as far as weather conditions.

He said, “It’s a beautiful day, the sun’s out here in Minot, there’s a little bit of breeze but it’s not too bad, suns kind of poking out. But you drive down to South Prairie and the wind is ten miles an hour faster, it’s enough to cause snow to blow, the sun is shining on the road, and all of a sudden the snow is sticking to the road causing ice we think it’s beautiful out and they are having completely different conditions.”

The proposal, if approved, would mean ward county would pay $30,000 over three years to add four different cameras.

The weather monitoring tools would be able to measure air and pavement temperatures and provide some forecast calculations.

It would also give a visual to the highway department in more rural areas to help them get a better idea of blowing snow and road conditions in order to make decisions on highway closures and needed snow removal during our big storms.

Some county leaders say the plan is too expensive and may not add much benefit on top of the system the state already uses, called NDAWN.

“The idea is good. But it’s like all these other things we do. When you tie yourself into a vendor, and that’s what we would be doing, pay them for necessary equipment and stuff, those things have a tendency to go up in price once you’re into them,” said John Fjeldahl, a Ward County commissioner

But the Highway Department says they use several resources right now, having to drive out to the neighboring cities during blizzards to determine the road conditions.

“What we were looking at, is to make better decisions or help us understand what’s happening out in the rural county during a snow event or freezing event,” said Larsen.

County commissioners said no to the plan for now, but they say they’re not ruling out other options for weather alerts in the future.

The Highway Department is looking into a camera weathering system from NDawn and a grant that could help with the cost.

You can always keep track of road and weather conditions on our KX storm team app.



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