The Iteris Weather Operations Center in Grand Forks is staffed with meteorologists 24/7 to ensure customer forecasts are as accurate and up to date as possible. Agencies using Iteris' forecast and MDSS services will have access to a toll-free number allowing them to call into the Weather Operations Center any time they require.
When a customer calls the Weather Operations Center, they can speak directly with one of Iteris' forecast meteorologists about a variety of topics. Conversations usually fall into one of three categories: a forecast question, reporting of current conditions, or reporting a problem.
Got a forecast question?
Forecast questions are the most common reason customers call the Weather Operations Center. Often times, customers on these calls have looked at their forecast a few hours ago and are asking if there are any updates they should be aware of. They are also interested to know if a weather event is unfolding as forecast and whether there is a need to change their maintenance plans to accommodate any potential forecast changes. Questions relating to the forecast beyond the time frame of MDSS are also common, especially if a major storm is occurring. In both of these instances, as well as with other forecast-related questions, the customer will speak directly with the meteorologist in charge of making their forecast.
Rather than directly asking a question about the forecast, customers sometimes call the Weather Operations Center to report the current conditions at their location. These types of calls are always appreciated by the forecasters on shift, as they provide ground truth that may otherwise be lacking in certain areas. Forecasters can then create a dialogue with the caller to help them gain a better understanding of how the weather is impacting their roads. Forecasters can use this information to tweak their forecast accordingly, ultimately giving the customer a more accurate forecast. It is not uncommon for these first two types of phone calls to blend together as well. What may start as a call to report current conditions could turn into a call about the forecast. The opposite is also true as forecasters may ask what the caller is seeing at their location before giving them a forecast.
The last type of phone call is usually not related to the forecast, but rather someone calling to report an issue with MDSS or another Iteris product. These types of calls are most common after hours, as the forecast meteorologists are the only ones always at the office. Depending on the situation, forecasters can provide some support to the customer. If they are unable to fix the problem, forecasters take note of the issue and caller before forwarding the problem to the appropriate Iteris employee.
We alway encourage customers to call the Iteris Weather Operations Center, whatever their question may be. Many of you have taken this advice well – in the winter of 2017-2018, forecast meteorologists answered an average of 3.1 phone calls per day. Combined with the average of 4.5 outgoing customer calls per day in the winter, meteorologists are frequently on the phone and appreciate any insight that customers may want to provide.
About the Author:
Joseph Urh is a forecast meteorologist in Iteris’ Weather Operations Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota.