WASHINGTON - The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously approved H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. This legislation prioritizes protecting lives and property.
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): "Americans from coast to coast will now be better prepared for severe weather with the passage of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. This bill has been four years in the making and is long overdue. It will transform our nation’s weather gathering efforts and help save lives and property. This legislation strengthens the underlying atmospheric science while simultaneously advancing innovative technology and reforming operations to provide better weather data, models, and forecasts. America can thank Reps. Lucas and Bridenstine for leading this innovation initiative. We look forward to the Senate approving this bill soon."
Congressman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.): “Every minute counts in the lead up before a major storm or tornado. This legislation helps to give those in harm’s way additional disaster preparation time which could ultimately be the difference between life and death or thousands of dollars in property damage. I am encouraged that the House has taken action on this critical matter and hope to see these life-saving policies enacted soon.”
Congressman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.): “Our aim is to have zero deaths from tornadoes and other extreme weather events. This bill gets us closer to that day. I thank my House colleagues for their support, and anticipate swift Senate passage and that the President will sign it into law.”
This legislation is the product of a bipartisan effort. It directs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to focus resources and effort to:
- Prioritize NOAA research on next generation weather data, modeling, and computing;
- Emphasize developing much more accurate forecasts and longer warning times for high impact weather events;
- Support proactive technology transfer of weather research into operations to protect lives and property;
- Create focused programs to extend warning lead times and improve forecasts for tornadoes and hurricanes specifically;
- Develop a plan to utilize observing system simulation experiments and innovative technology to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts;
- Employ new commercial data options and private sector weather solutions; and
- Enhance coordination among various federal government weather stakeholders.
The legislation also authorizes and extends a NOAA pilot program already under way thanks to a partnership between the House Science and the House Appropriations Committees. Under this pilot program, NOAA has already issued two contracts to procure commercial satellite weather data. This pilot program could bring about a paradigm shift in how NOAA makes decisions about future procurement of critical weather data and systems.