Characterization of Blow Over Risk in the Wyoming Highway System
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Characterization of Blow Over Risk in the Wyoming Highway System

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      Blow over crashes caused by severe crosswinds are a common problem on Wyoming highways, as well as roadways elsewhere that are subject to high wind conditions. To characterize blow over-inducing wind gusts, a high-frequency wind monitoring system was installed at a known hazard area along Interstate 25 just north of the Colorado-Wyoming state line. Data collected from this high-frequency system were analyzed along with data from the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s (WYDOT) traditional systems including a Portable Weather Instrument Station (PWIS) and an existing Road Weather Information System (RWIS). Using data collected from these sources and a static vehicle stability model that integrates major influencing factors, the critical vehicle speed for the blow over condition was statistically modeled by distribution fitting. Through this investigation, the exp-gamma distribution was found to be the most appropriate to model the stochastic process of vehicle blow over risk. Applications using historical, statewide RWIS Environmental Sensor Station (ESS) data demonstrated the predictive capability of this developed tool for historical blow over crashes. Furthermore, the sensitivity analysis of this vehicle stability model characterizes the blow over risk of vehicles with various attributes. Finally, blow over hazard maps were produced based on reconstructed historical maximum and mean wind fields using a Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model. This dynamic risk-assessing tool, founded in the technology developed herein, will provide significant additional information to traveler information systems and roadway agencies managing roads with frequent high wind conditions.
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