Press Releases

Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Forecasting Bill Passes in House

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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Washington, May 19, 2015 | Sheryl Kaufman, Communications Director (202-225-2211) | comments

Today, the House of Representatives unanimously approved H.R. 1561, the Lucas-Bridenstine Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015. This legislation prioritizes the protection of lives and property. 

“In Oklahoma, we know all too well the devastating effects of severe weather,” said Congressman Jim Bridenstine. “The importance of accurate forecasts cannot be overstated. Our aim is to have zero deaths from tornadoes and other extreme weather events. This bill gets us closer to that day.”

H.R. 1561 is the product of over two years of bipartisan negotiations and is substantially similar to Congressman Bridenstine’s Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2014. The House of Representatives bill directs the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to:

  • Rebalance NOAA funding to place a higher priority on weather-related research and activities.
  • Emphasize the development of accurate forecasts and timely warnings of high impact weather events.
  • Create tornado and hurricane warning extension programs specifically tasked with extending warning lead times and improved forecasts for these particularly damaging weather events.
  • Develop a plan to regain U.S. superiority in weather modeling and forecasts. We currently lag behind Europe, Canada, and the U.K. NOAA should utilize advanced radar, aerial observing systems, improved high performance computing, and next generation weather models, and carry out Observing System Simulation Experiments.

 

The legislation also:

  • Clarifies and encourages NOAA to pursue alternative sources of weather data, such as contracting with commercial providers or placing weather satellite instruments on government or private payloads.
  • Establishes a $9 million pilot program for NOAA to purchase commercial space-based weather data to test against proprietary NOAA data, and also calls on NOAA to publish standards and specifications commercial data must meet.
  • Codifies and authorizes funding for a technology transfer initiative between NOAA’s researchers, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and its operators, the National Weather Service, in order to ensure new technologies and methods are effectively deployed.
  • Without contributing to the deficit, authorizes $120 million within NOAA’s existing funding to carry out these programs. $80 million is authorized to support the work being carried out at NOAA’s weather laboratories and cooperative institutes, including NOAA’s National Severe Storms Lab and the NOAA/University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, both located in Norman, OK.

 

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.”

 

Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith: “Severe weather routinely affects large portions of the United States.  This year we have already seen the devastating effects of tornadoes across our country. I commend Rep. Bridenstine for his leadership on this issue and thank him for sponsoring this important bill to increase forecast warning lead times for tornadoes and hurricanes. The enhanced prediction of major storms will help protect the public from injury and loss of property.

 

Bridenstine commented on the path forward for the legislation, “Last week, the Senate also introduced weather legislation. I am glad they are beginning to look at an issue the House has been working on for a few years now.  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.”

 

In addition to overwhelming bipartisan support, H.R. 1561 has received the endorsement of the following weather stakeholders: AccuWeather, American Commercial Space Weather Association, Atmospheric & Space Technology Research Associates, American Weather and Climate Industry Association, Carmel Research Center, GeoOptics, Global Weather Corporation, MetraWeather, Panasonic Avionics Corporation, PlanetIQ, Space Environment Technologies, Spire Global, Science Technology Corporation, Tempus Global Data, The Weather Company, University Corporation of Atmospheric Research, Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative, Utah State University, Weather Coalition, Weather Decision Technologies, and the following members of NOAA’s independent Environmental Informational Services Working Group: Walt Dabbert, Philip Ardanuy, Waren Qualley, Jean Vieux, and Julie Winkler

 

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