Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Department of


First Advisor

Mark R. Anderson

Date of this Version



Barnhardt, Nancy E. A Case Study Analysis of Two Heavy Snowfall Events and Road Weather Implications in 2018 for Nebraska. MS Thesis. University of Nebraska, 2019.


A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College of University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillments of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Mark R. Anderson. Lincoln, Nebraska: April, 2019

Copyright 2019 Nancy Barnhardt


Weather-related car accidents make up approximately a quarter of all crashes even though the amount of time during the year in which they can occur is minimal in comparison to fair weather day crashes. Maintenance Decision Support Systems (MDSS) were developed to help mitigate the number of crashes that occur during winter weather through improved operations along with reducing chemical usage. An MDSS uses weather information to recommend road treatments based on current and future weather conditions. To evaluate the limitations and capabilities of the Nebraska Department of Transportation Maintenance Decision Support System (NDOT-MDSS), case study analysis was performed on two 2018 winter storms, 20-22 January and 13-15 April which occurred over the state of Nebraska. These storms were chosen because they produced heavy snowfall totals across the state and travel delays and road closures were recorded for both events. A comparison of the NDOT-MDSS analysis and the observations from archived meteorological sources for each storm was done to investigate the timing and the total snowfall accumulations, pavement temperatures, air temperatures, and the winds, highlighting both the differences and similarities between the two observation data sets. A synoptic analysis of both winter storms was done to understand the atmospheric conditions and to illustrate how the NDOT-MDSS handled each situation. Understanding how well the NDOT-MDSS handled each storm is a key component in helping maintenance crews be more efficient utilizing the maintenance recommendations. This research will provide the Nebraska Department of Transportation (NDOT) information on the NDOT-MDSS that will lead to a reduction of chemicals used to treat the roads.

Advisor: Mark R. Anderson