Improving Traffic Safety through Better Snow Fences: Image-Based Methods to Measure Trapped Snow Volume and the Snow Relocation Coefficient

Project status

In progress

Start date: 08/01/15
End date: 12/31/16


Principal investigator:

Co-principal investigators:

About the research

Blowing and drifting of snow is a major concern for safety, transportation efficiency, and road maintenance and repair. One common way to mitigate snow drift on roadways is to install structural or living snow fences, but the design of snow fences relies on empirical relations—in particular, for estimating the snow relocation coefficient (SRC)—that do not necessarily apply to the US Midwest. The goal of this project is to develop an image-based method to evaluate the transport processes in the snow budget and measure the SRC directly in the field under various conditions. The experimental approach will also allow the temporal evolution of the volume of snow retained by a fence to be measured so that the efficiency of a design solution can be confirmed over a whole winter season. The researchers will work closely with staff at the Iowa Department of Transportation in collecting field data and guiding the progress of the research. By improving the design of snow fences, this work will enhance safety, improve road conditions, and decrease costs for maintenance and repair.



  • IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering
  • Midwest Transportation Center

Partner(s): Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering & IIHR-Hydroscience and Engineering, UofI