LANSING — This winter, motorists have an expanded online vantage point to view stretches of state highway across the Upper Peninsula. Thirteen new webcams have been added to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Road Weather Information System, or RWIS.
Using federal grant funding, MDOT began installing the system between 2008 and 2010 to monitor atmospheric and road surface conditions in an effort to better manage winter maintenance activities and to provide more travel information to motorists.
The system is made up of a network of Environmental Sensor Stations (ESSs). These roadside tower installations combine sensors to measure air and road surface temperatures, barometric pressure, wind, salt concentrations on the road surface, frost depth, and dewpoint, with cameras that take periodic still images to verify conditions at the site. MDOT and contract county road commissions providing maintenance services use the system to better predict when ice will begin to form on the roadway or bridge decks, or see when snow is blowing and drifting across the road, improving efficiency.
The new camera locations, online since last week, are in:
- Calumet, on US-41 at Store Street
- Arnheim, on US-41 at the Houghton/Baraga county line
- Nisula, on M-38 at the Houghton/Ontonagon county line
- Trout Creek, on M-28 at the Houghton/Ontonagon county line
- Rockland, on US-45 at M-26
- Wakefield, on US-2 at M-28
- Republic, on M-95 at the Marquette/Dickinson county line
- Sundell, on M-94 at the Marquette/Alger county line
- Kiva, on US-41 at the Marquette/Alger county line
- Trenary, on US-41 at the Alger/Delta county line
- Rapid River, on US-2/US-41 at Brampton 27.5 Road
- Manistique, on US-2 at Tannery Road
- Blaney Park, on US-2 at M-77
MDOT also provides motorists with an online view of the ESS cameras and weather data, where available, which can be used to help make travel plans. Views from the 13 new U.P. cameras, along with the 13 original cameras, are available now on the Mi Drive site at www.michigan.gov/drive. They’re also accessible on the new free Mi Drive app available from iTunes and Google Play.
While the ESS network was initially used by MDOT for highway maintenance coordination, the information collected by the stations is now available to other agencies. Weather condition information from the new sites is not yet online. Additional U.P. cameras may be added to the Mi Drive site soon.