House Passes Bridenstine Weather Forecasting Improvement Act
Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed HR 2413, the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2014, sponsored by Jim Bridenstine, Oklahoma 1st District Congressman. This bill will enable technology development to save lives and protect property from severe weather, including tornadoes, without adding to the budget or debt. The measure received tremendous bipartisan support and passed on a voice vote.
HR 2413 directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to prioritize weather-related activities and rebalances NOAA’s funding to bring weather related activities to a higher level. The bill completes this reprioritization in a fiscally responsible manner. HR 2413 does not increase NOAA’s overall authorization.
This bill will speed up the development and fielding of critical technology. By requiring coordination and prioritization across the range of NOAA agencies, HR 2413 will help get weather prediction and forecasting technologies off the drawing board and into the field. It codifies technology transfer between the Office of Atmospheric Research – the researchers – and the National Weather Service – the operators, a vital link that ensures next generation weather technologies are implemented.
Perhaps most importantly, H.R. 2413 enhances NOAA’s collaboration with the private sector and universities. Oklahoma is on the cutting edge of weather research, prediction, and forecasting with absolutely world class institutions such as the National Weather Center and the National Severe Storms Laboratory at the University of Oklahoma. This bill clarifies that NOAA can purchase weather data through contracts with commercial providers and place weather satellite instruments on private payloads. Leveraging the private sector will lead to lower costs for better weather data, saving lives and property.
Bridenstine commented, “This legislation is focused on saving lives. The National Severe Storms Lab at the University of Oklahoma is repurposing military radar technology for tornado forecasting and warning. These improved forecasts have the potential to give the public over an hour of lead time to respond to a tornado, compared to the 13 to 15 minute average currently possible. It is simply unacceptable to continue providing tornado warnings of 15 minutes or less, as was the case in Moore, Oklahoma last year, when warnings an hour or more in advance are achievable.
“I am gratified that my colleagues in the House on both sides of the aisle have supported the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act. As a freshman Representative, it is an honor that my first piece of legislation to receive a floor vote will have such a vital impact on Oklahoma and America. I am also gratified that it advances deployment of a technology I used in my career as a Navy pilot.”
The legislation was cosponsored by the entire bipartisan membership of the Environment Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The next step is consideration in the Senate.
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