Item: Remote identification of precipitation type
Title: Remote identification of precipitation type
Proceedings: Proceedings of the 1994 International Snow Science Workshop, Snowbird, Utah, USA
Authors: Sue A. Ferguson and Steve Breyfogle
Abstract: The results of a 2-year project to investigate the feasibility of automatically detecting precipitation type for highway hazard reduction programs in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State are reported. The project investigated available technology for remote identification of precipitation type, selected a suitable sensor for testing, and compared field and laboratory tests with visual observations. Modifications of the hardware and software were conducted to optimize the use of precipitation identification (PID) sensors in operational hazard-reduction programs. A survey of available PID sensors showed that a variety of techniques to determine the phase of precipitation are being developed. Only a few of the PID sensors that are available commercially, however, were found capable of operating reliably in remote mountain locations. Of these, only one, called HYDRaS, was sufficiently cost effective for hazard-reduction programs. A HYDRaS sensor was installed at the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) observation station at Snoqualmie Pass, and was connected to automatic data-logging equipment. Another HYDRaS was equipped for mobile use and tested at mountain sites in Alaska, other areas of Washington, and in Japan. Data from each sensor were compared against visual observations. The results of this analysis showed adequate performance from the HYDRaS. The analysis also showed that the HYDRaS data can be a valuable asset to the hazard mitigation programs along mountain highways, particularly when combined with data-loggers, totaling precipitation gages, and computer graphics.
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Keywords: precipitation, avalanche control, snow strength, avalanche hazard
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