The Extent of Capacity Loss Caused by Rainfall at Signalised Intersections

J. Oyaro1, J. Ben-Edigbe1, *
1 Department of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa

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© 2020 Oyaro & Ben-Edigbe.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at Department of Civil Engineering, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa; Tel: +27 796182384; E-mail:



Even though their physical characteristics exert a constant influence on capacity and saturation flows, signalized intersections are fixed facilities not affected by rainfall. Whilst traffic conditions with varying effects can be regulated, rainfall conditions cannot be regulated but compensated for by warning drivers to reduce speed. Speed reduction has an impact on signalised intersection capacity, whilst signalised intersection capacity is a function of saturation flow, effective green, and cycle time. In this paper, a capacity loss is the differential percentage between ‘with and without’ rainfall scenario.


The paper investigated the extent of capacity loss caused by rainfall at signalised intersections.


In Durban, South Africa, rainfall data were collected, collated, and correlated with traffic data in a 'with and without' rainfall intensity study. Rainfall intensity was classified according to the rate of precipitation as follows; rainfall intensity(i): light rain (i <2.5mm/h); Moderate rain (2.5mm/h ≤ i < 10mm/h), and heavy rain (10 ≤ i ≤ 50mm/h) as prescribed by the World Meteorological Society.


Empirical results show that rainfall intensity has an effect on road capacity at a signalised intersection. Generally, for the vehicles going straight, light rain caused a 4.25% capacity loss; moderate rain 9.18% while heavy rain caused an 11.53% capacity reduction. With right-turning vehicles, light rain caused 7.38% capacity loss; moderate rain caused 14.3%, while heavy rain accounted for 19.15% capacity reduction.


The paper concluded that rainfall at signalised intersections would cause an anomalous capacity reduction. Since the database for the study is small, the paper advocates for further studies based on a broader database to include yellow interval time.

Keywords: Capacity, Start-up lost time, Signalised intersection, Rainfall intensity, Cycle time, World meteorological society.