Lucas-Bridenstine Bill to Strengthen Severe Weather Forecasting Passes House

May 20, 2015

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday evening, the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 1561, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act, legislation introduced by Congressmen Frank Lucas (OK-03) and Jim Bridenstine (OK-01) to increase lead times in the detection of severe weather, such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

The bill works to ensure funding at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is prioritized toward the best computer modeling, data and operation forecasts. Improved forecasting means more time to prepare and move to shelter for those in regions prone to inclement weather.

Congressman Lucas: “As Oklahomans, we’re no strangers to the pressing need for forecasting improvement. The devastating tornadoes throughout our state’s history serve as a stark reminder that we can do better to provide longer lead times to folks in harm’s way. I’m glad the house acted to pass this bipartisan initiative that will help save lives and reduce property damage. Every minute counts in disaster preparation.”

Congressman Bridenstine: “Weather forecasting is not a partisan issue. I am grateful to my House colleagues for recognizing the importance of improving our understanding of weather in order to better safeguard our constituents. I look forward to working with our Senate counterparts and encourage them to take up H.R. 1561 so that we can send legislation to the President’s desk, setting in motion improvements needed to better predict weather and save lives and property.”

The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act creates a joint technology transfer fund to incorporate new forecasting and models developed through NOAA’s Weather Research Program into our operational forecasts. In its assessment of the bill, the Congressional Budget Office reported that “public entities, such as weather agencies and public universities, would benefit from cooperative agreements… authorized in this bill for research and weather-related activities.”

The bill establishes a pilot program to demonstrate the value of acquiring data from commercial technologies available today. It prompts NOAA to actively consider new commercial data and private sector solutions to further enhance our country’s weather forecasting capabilities.

Lastly, the bill creates a dedicated tornado warning improvement extension program. The program is tasked with reducing the loss of life and destruction of property by actively working to extend tornado warning lead times.

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