Imagine being able to determine which roads and highways need salting or sanding during winter weather. Well, that's becoming a reality in the city of Tulsa.
FOX23 got an exclusive invitation to see the installation of a new device. The sensor at the northeast Tulsa Community College campus could save Tulsa millions of tax dollars.
"To my knowledge, this is a first, and we're pretty excited to get involved here right at the ground level," said meteorologist Steve Amburn.
TCC, the Oklahoma Mesonet and the National Weather Service are teamed up in this effort to forecast the surface temperature of roadways, and it starts with the sensor.
"We're going to take that information and see if we can make some good correlations and validate some formulas to see if we can take the air temperatures and forecast the road temperatures," said Amburn.
The infrared thermometer will relay real-time surface temperatures back to the Mesonet site. From there it will then go straight to a computer inside the Tulsa National Weather Service.
"You're also talking about the ability for forecasters and meteorologists to be able to warn people effectively about what the road conditions are going to be, because right now, we're just kind of guessing," said Phil Browder, with the Oklahoma Mesonet.
This year, the city of Tulsa budgeted $250,000 for salting and sanding for Tulsa roads. That includes the overtime hours for the workers.
"If we can help forecast the road temperatures we can probably, we think, help the city decide when they want to put down salt, when they want to put down chemicals, whether or not the snow is going to melt when it hits the roads," said Amburn.
It's something that's already in place with our Canadian neighbors and now, Tulsa's getting a firsthand experience.