‘Go time’ for UDOT Traffic Operations Center as first snowstorm of season hits 

Posted at 6:44 AM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 08:44:59-05

SALT LAKE CITY - Utah Department of Transportation crews will spend the entire night monitoring the weather second-by-second ahead of sending out the plows for the first time since last winter.

Wednesday evening, workers at the Traffic Operations Center stayed busy behind-the-scenes in preparation for the incoming snow storm.

A flurry of voices floated across the police scanner radio waves, closely monitored by traffic operators.

They also each watched several live traffic camera feeds on a wall-sized screen. One of the boxes in the screen showed up-to-date weather radar.

"This is kind of the real-time component of our UDOT operations," explained Lisa Miller, Traveler Information Manager. "It's really 'go time' here at the traffic operations center, and we've been preparing for several days now."

The operators multi-task between the computers, cameras and listening to police.

They work with law enforcement and make posts on social media during traffic interruptions, like crashes, or when snow snarls the commute.

"We have a wealth of data coming into our operations center here, and we use all of that to paint a picture of what's going on out on the roads," she said.

An adjacent room of meteorologists tracked the storm across northern Utah, and how it'll impact the morning or evening rush.

She explained they relay that information to the 533 plows across the state. While plows sit at the ready, she urged drivers to take their best precautions to stay safe.

"Make sure you always check before you leave your driveway," Miller said.

She also suggested leaving early, slowing down and stocking your vehicle with an emergency kit.

In the kit, she said, keep water, food, gloves, hats and blankets. That way you're as ready as UDOT is, as they keep track of the storm and its impact around the clock.