The UPC launches a campaign for monitoring snow on the roads

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The Center of Applied Research in Hydrometeorology (CRAHI) of the UPC has launched #CarreteraNevada, a campaign for citizen participation to gather data on how the Catalan road network is affected in snow storms. Through the campaign, people are asked to send photographs of affected roads via Twitter and email. The images will help researchers to validate and improve the current model of forecasting road conditions when there is snowfall.

In Catalonia, snow storms or snowfall in places where it does not usually snow can affect and block roads and cause serious mobility problems. To prevent incidents or associated situations, or to minimise negative effects, it is important to know how the road network is affected. Hence, the CRAHI UPC has developed a model for predicting road conditions in snow storms.

The model developed by the CRAHI uses observations and weather predictions generated in the framework of the project ANYWHERE on the map of the Catalan road network and transforms them into quantitative, measurable impacts on the state of roads and traffic conditions.

Call to improve the accuracy of the model

Currently, the model is ready for operation in real time and to be implemented during the snow season this year. Based on studying past episodes, it has been verified that the model is robust. To increase its accuracy, additional data are required on the state of the road network when snowfall occurs. Catalan roads do not have sensors that provide data on the state of the road surface (temperature, accumulation of snow, etc.). The campaign #CarreteraNevada was created to meet this information gap throughout Catalonia.

The initiative, which is coordinated by CRAHI UPC, consists of monitoring the state of roads affected by snow, with the help of citizen participation. From now to the end of the snow season, people are asked to become observers of the road network. Anyone who is on a road covered in snow can send geolocated photographs of the road via Twitter @CarreteraNevada or the email The aim is to gather data on the entire territory. In addition, a website has been set up with information on how to participate in the campaign. The website includes a map that shows the daily forecast of conditions of the road network, based on the model developed by the CRAHI.

From citizen participation to research

The main aim of #CarreteraNevada is to promote citizen participation. However, CRAHI’s ultimate objective is to analyse photographs received in the various episodes of snow that occurred during the winter. The results are expected to enable scientists to validate and improve the accuracy of the current forecasting model.

Once validated, Protección Civil Catalunya (Catalan Civil Protection) is expected to incorporate the model into its control centre to improve the management of future episodes of snow.

Innovative technological solutions

The campaign #CarreteraNevada is part of the project Enhancing emergency management and response to extreme weather and climate events (ANYWHERE), which is focused on the development of innovative technological solutions to anticipate and manage weather phenomena that have a strong impact on society.

Coordinated by CRAHI UPC and with 12 million euros of funding from the European research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, participants in the project include 34 European organisations of different types (universities and research centres, companies and public institutions from the sector of civil protection and emergencies).