BC RWIS Newsletter

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Last updated: October 2020

Included in this issue:

Road Weather Forecasts

Twice daily Road Weather Forecasts start on Nov 1 for all the Road Weather Stations in BC. For voice consultations with the WeatherNet forecasters, call 1-800-937-8646, extension 1. Consultations are only available regarding the site specific forecasts for the stations in our network, but they are a valuable part of the service, and the forecasters will always welcome feedback and commentary on the forecasts.

Network Expansion

The RWIS network now consists of 99 Road Weather Stations, 67 Avalanche Weather Stations, and 91 Frost Probe Stations.

The new Road Weather Stations this year are:

  • 25221 Coquihalla Summit – Hwy 5 (upgraded from Avalanche Weather Station)
  • 28071 Big Bar – Hwy 97 at the Big Bar Rest Area (upgraded from fog detection station)
  • 37192 Quinn Creek – Hwy 95 south of Parson
  • 38491 Blanket – Hwy 23S south of Revelstoke
  • 39121 Kootenay Pass – Hwy 3 (upgraded from Avalanche Weather Station)
  • 39291 Goatfell – Hwy 3 east of Yahk
  • 64092 Menzies Hill – Hwy 19 south of Roberts Lake

Upgrades to Existing Stations

Five Road Weather Stations in our network have been upgraded this year with Optical Pavement Sensors:

  • 25092 Helmer Lake - Hwy 5 east of Merritt
  • 52091 Legate Creek - Hwy 16 east of Terrace
  • 54091 Hungry Hill - Hwy 16 northwest of Houston
  • 55091 Stearns - Hwy 16 east of Burns Lake
  • 63093 Cochrane - Hwy 19 near the Horne Lake Interchange

41091 West Twin Creek has also been upgraded with a Present Weather Sensor (see description below) and a new web cam with infrared illumination.

Next Generation Road Weather Stations

Net generation weather stationThe new Road Weather Stations in our network are using a more modern sensor suite to provide additional data elements to better define the current weather and road conditions. These stations will use Optical Pavement Sensors and Present Weather Sensors as well as air temperature and humidity sensors, and wind speed and direction and barometric pressure sensors at some locations (not all stations are located at sites that can provide meaningful wind data).  Each of the new stations also has a web cam with infrared illuminator for nighttime viewing. There are now 25 of these types of stations, making up 25% of the Road Weather Stations.

The Optical Pavement Sensors report the following parameters:

  • Pavement surface temperature
  • Surface condition (dry, moist, wet, slush, frost, snow, or ice)
  • Level of Grip (a pseudo co-efficient of friction on the pavement surface)
  • Coverage thicknesses of water, snow, and ice

Present Weather Sensors report the following:

  • Visibility
  • Present weather (descriptive, including precipitation type and rate, and whether precipitation is intermittent or steady)
  • Water equivalent precipitation measurements (similar to a precipitation gauge)
  • Snowfall measurements (Hourly and New (12 hour) accumulations, but excluding snowpack depth measurements)

Variable Speed Limit Systems

RWIS is a key component in BC’s Variable Speed Limit Systems (VSLS).  These systems require a relatively dense network of Optical Pavement Sensors to detect potentially hazardous winter conditions and recommend speed limit reductions when appropriate.  Sensors are typically located about 10 km apart, monitoring conditions on both directions of travel.

The Fraser Valley Variable Speed Limit System is nearing completion, and several of the RWIS sensors are now available for weather and road condition monitoring. The remaining VSLS sensors (Optical Pavement Sensors at a number of locations and Present Weather Sensors at three locations should be available in the coming winter.

The data from these stations will be available on the RWIS Optical website described below.

RWIS Optical Website

To gain access to this site, click on the ‘Create Account’ link, complete and submit the form that is presented.

The site has seen extensive upgrades over the summer, and now displays the data from all stations in the Ministry’s network except for Frost Probe stations.  For operational access to weather station data and forecasts it is now the recommended site. There are a number of new features and improvements to the user interface:

  • Network map view, enabling identification of stations and access to the data
  • Station list can be filtered by Region or Service Area, or a custom filter can be set up in Settings / Station List Format
  • Current Conditions pane in Graphs or Data Table view – can be toggled on or off
  • Alarms: accessed on the bottom of the Settings page.  Simple interface, alarms can be assigned to multiple stations.  Alerting is by email only.

Forecast Broadcast System (FBSys)

FBSys is an interactive voice interface to the Ministry’s Weather Network. To access the system:

  • phone 604-527-2129 or,
  • Ministry Radio System, Speed Call * 9 * 971.

For more information on the system, including the numeric codes for all of the products available, please refer to the Radio Call Book.  FBSys information is organized by Region and is given on the first pages of each Region following the Radio Repeater Coverage maps.

It provides access to:

  • Public Weather Forecasts from Environment Canada
  • The site-specific Road Weather Forecasts for each Road Weather Station (Nov 1 through Mar 31)
  • Current weather data from all the stations in MoT’s network (266 stations, including the upper elevation avalanche stations).

The system will prompt you to enter a numeric code for whichever forecast or weather reading you want to hear.

Public Access Portal to Historical Data

Address: https://prdoas6.pub-apps.th.gov.bc.ca/saw-paws/

This site is available to the public to download historical data from any of the weather stations within the Ministry’s network, including stations that have been discontinued. The site offers station lists with basic metadata on all the stations, and historical data can be downloaded in spreadsheet files, one file per calendar year. For the current year, the data is cut off 4 weeks prior to the current date, so it is not a source of real time information..

Contacting Us

For inquiries related to the RWIS network, please use the ‘Feedback/Suggestions’ link in the top bar of any page of the RWIS site. This will generate an email message addressed to the Ministry’s Avalanche and Weather Programs office.

For Avalanche and Weather Programs after-hours emergency system support, please call (250) 387-7519.

If you're having problems registering for a BCeID, logging in with your BCeID, or have any other questions about BCeID, please contact the BCeID Help Desk.

The BCeID Help Desk is open Monday to Friday (except statutory holidays) from 8:30am to 5:00pm Pacific Time / 9:30am to 6:00pm Mountain Time.

  • 1 888 356-2741 (Canada and USA toll free)
  • 604 660-2355 (Within lower mainland or outside Canada and USA)
  • Online form