Weather plays a large role in how we operate a vehicle - especially in this part of the county.  Changing conditions warrant careful attention to stay safe and prevent accidents.  Knowing what the weather is like along the actual roadways we're traveling is essential. It also plays a key role in how the Minnesota Department of Transportation decides how and where to schedule road maintenance vehicles like snowplows.

That's why MNDOT has made significant investments in Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) throughout the state.  A new group of these systems in our area are about to join that network.

Over the next few weeks, ten new RWIS will be put in place by work crews in our area.  The stations will be spread out geographically in Aitkin, Carlton, Cook, Itasca, Lake, and St. Louis Counties.  Here's a list of the location sites for the new RWIS:

  • Highway 61 near Grand Marais at Milepost (MP) 110.8
  • Highway 38 near Marcell at MP 27.5
  • Highway 210 near Tamarack at MP 186.3
  • I-35 near Moose Lake at MP 216.0
  • Highway 2 near Gowan at MP 225.1
  • Highway 1 near Stony River at MP 311.0
  • Highway 2 near Cohasset at MP 174.3
  • Highway 53 near Cook at MP 97.5
  • Highway 61 near Schroeder at MP 78.9
  • Highway 65 near Buck Lake at MP 192.9

Each of the RWIS's will collect weather data at the environmental sensor station.  Collected data includes "atmospheric parameters, pavement conditions, and visibility".  That information is then used,  along with camera images from the site, to determine maintenance decisions.

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MNDOT reports that the installations won't require any detours.  The installation work will be completed under traffic with flagging operations when lane closures are required for safety concerns.  The data is shared with the National Weather Service and with Minnesota's 511 Traveler Information System.

While the installation of these ten RWIS will happen in our Northeastern Minnesota,  they won't be alone.  The Minnesota Department of Transportation will install 19 additional systems throughout Central Minnesota and the rest of the state by October. Once complete, 158 RWIS systems will be online.

Total cost for the new RWIS systems is $1.5 million.

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