TONIGHT: Rain showers well after midnight. Low: 37. Winds: SW 5-10.
SUNDAY: Rain in the morning, mixing with snow by the afternoon. Less than an inch of accumulation expected. High: 40. Winds: N 15-20. ...more »
Sensors Monitor Frigid Overpass Temperatures
The first significant storm of the winter season is sweeping our area as we speak.
The Sangamon County Highway Department has 250 miles of roadway to look after when the weather gets bad.
"Some of the challenges we face in the rural areas are the drifting areas. Sometimes if there are large, even small, snowfall amounts, but heavy winds associated with the storms, we have drifting in areas," Sangamon County Highway Department Assistant Engineer Brian Davis said.
But with little accumulation expected, the challenges shift to dealing with black ice. That is where a cluster of sensors come in.
"[The sensors are] specific to that bridge, but we utilize that as a gauge to see how fast pavement temperatures are dropping in that area," Davis said.
There are four sensors on and around the I-55 and Route 104 passover. They're not even visible, but they do show officials a lot.
"Whether or not it's wet or dry, it also gives us a pavement temperature and a bridge temperature at that same location," Davis said.
There are similar sensors on bridges in other counties. Officials in Sangamon County can use that information to keep track as the storm moves through.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has its own technology.
"We have a communication center that monitors the weather. So there are different screens so we can see what interstates and what the roads are looking like," IDOT Spokesperson Paris Ervin said.
Street crews report conditions as they see them, and that information helps put together a real-time map, which shows the roads to avoid and the ones that are clear.
But don't forget about that black ice.
"So it's really important to slow down, buckle up and eliminate all distractions. We want everyone to make it to their destinations safely," Ervin said.