10 Awesome Inventions for Living with Snow

Road Weather Information Systems
© Visuals Unlimited/Corbis

Outside of sticking our heads out the door, how do we know when to use all these fancy anti-icing chemicals? Weather monitoring equipment and sensors provide data to something called "environmental sensor stations" (ESS). These stations take into account humidity, precipitation, wind speed and pressure. Combined with the temperature data for the air and pavement, the ESS strategize either an automatic or manual response to inclement weather. For example, the data from Road Weather Information Systems (RWIS) help decide what the anti-icing recipe should be, answering whether we should use more or less sweet beets in our anti-ice cocktails. Systems can even be integrated, so that the RWIS automatically triggers anti-icing devices on roads and bridges, preparing them for the coming snowfall.