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probe data, commercial vehicle, high-fidelity radar data, doppler, rain intensity, back-of-queue crash, impact duration, recovery time


Rain impacts roadways such as wet pavement, standing water, decreased visibility, and wind gusts and can lead to hazardous driving conditions. This study investigates the use of high fidelity Doppler data at 1 km spatial and 2-minute temporal resolution in combination with commercial probe speed data on freeways.

Segment-based space-mean speeds were used and drops in speeds during rainfall events of 5.5 mm/hour or greater over a one-month period on a section of four to six-lane interstate were assessed. Speed reductions were evaluated as a time series over a 1-hour window with the rain data. Three interpolation methods for estimating rainfall rates were tested and seven metrics were developed for the analysis. The study found sharp drops in speed of more than 40 mph occurred at estimated rainfall rates of 30 mm/hour or greater, but the drops did not become more severe beyond this threshold. The average time of first detected rainfall to impacting speeds was 17 minutes.

The bilinear method detected the greatest number of events during the 1-month period, with the most conservative rate of predicted rainfall. The range of rainfall intensities were estimated between 7.5 to 106 mm/hour for the 39 events. This range was much greater than the heavy rainfall categorization at 16 mm/hour in previous studies reported in the literature. The bilinear interpolation method for Doppler data is recommended because it detected the greatest number of events and had the longest rain duration and lowest estimated maximum rainfall out of three methods tested, suggesting the method balanced awareness of the weather conditions around the roadway with isolated, localized rain intensities.


Submitted to the Transportation Research Board (TRB) 98th Annual Meeting on August 1, 2018. Presented on January 14, 2019 at TRB in Washington, D.C.