Pavement and Near-Surface Temperatures Altering Winter Weather Risks

Meghan Bitterlin, “Pavement and Near-Surface Temperatures Altering Winter Weather Risks”
Mentor: Paul Roebber, Atmospheric Science

Innovative Weather (IW), a group of Operational Meteorologist at UWM, works closely with government and private clients to provide weather forecasts based upon a client’s specific needs. A great deal of uncertainty surrounds winter weather scenarios, and this uncertainty is largely based upon conditions at the surface that alter freezeback, frost, snow ratios, snowmelt, and more. Through a motor vehicle crash database, weather observation databases, and archived sounding data from the previous 5 years, I have generated weather-related outcomes based upon near-surface and pavement temperatures. It is important to note how snow depth, cloud cover, and humidity levels, alongside temperatures, greatly alter any event. When near-surface temperatures are above freezing, I have found that a deeper snow depth and significant cloud cover during the day can maintain below freezing pavement temperatures, which, in turn, can increase weather-related risks for multiple IW clients. Freezing rain is one of the greatest threats to IW clients, but is difficult to forecast due to temperature uncertainties near and at the surface. My research has provided insight on what temperature ranges may cause rain to freeze upon impact of a surface or pavement, or how temperatures in lower parts of the atmosphere lead to different forms or precipitation. I also went on to research how different ranges of below freezing pavement temperatures can alter freezeback and frost. Through this research, Innovative Weather can improve forecast quality, especially for their winter-sensitive clients. Better preparedness for the winter season and increased forecast credibility for IW could likely be the outcomes of this research.


  1. Hi Meghan – thanks for sharing your preliminary research findings through your abstract! It all sounds very interesting, and I hope that Innovative Weather is able to make good use of it in future winter seasons!

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