House committee approves Act to improve nation’s weather forecasting

A U.S. House Committee gave approval this week to a Weather Act bill cosponsored by Oklahoma Congresswoman Stephanie Bice, one to make improvements in the nation’s weather forecasting abilities.

The markup by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee was in support of H.R. 6093, the Weather Act Reauthorization, which reauthorizes critical NOAA research programs. It also establishes new programs to advance forecasting, expands commercial data partnerships, strengthens emergency preparedness, and advances tools for farmers, ranchers, and resource managers.

The Act contains three bills proposed by Rep.. Bice: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio Modernization Act, the National Mesonet Authorization Act, and the Weather Innovation for Next Generation (WING) Act.

Americans across the country, and especially Oklahomans, rely on accurate weather forecasting in order to protect their life and property,” said Rep. Bice in a statement issued following the committee vote.

“The Weather Act Reauthorization ensures we have the resources we need when critical weather events strike. I am grateful that this legislation includes my bills the NOAA Weather Radio Act, the National Mesonet Authorization Act, and the WING Act. I was proud to support this bill and want to thank Chairman Lucas for his leadership and for his focus on protecting Oklahomans.”

The House committee is chaired by Oklahoma Rep. Frank Lucas who offered his thanks to Bice for her support of the act.

Her bill to modernize NOAA’s weather radio will help save lives by updating our emergency alert system. And her bill to codify the National Mesonet Program for the first time ever ensures other states will look to Oklahoma as the gold standard and model of critical, real-time weather and climate services.”

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio Modernization Act accomplishes several things:

  • Directs NOAA to replace the outdated technology currently in use throughout its weather radio system.
  • Establishes an initiative for broadcasts to transition to IP-based communications and develop options for backup capabilities and enhanced signal transmission.
  • Paves the way for future development and provides failsafe options, so the National Weather Radio (NWR) is never down for an extended period and outages will be less frequent.
  • This legislation passed the House last Congress.

The National Mesonet Authorization Act would do the following:

  • This legislation would increase the overall coverage and accuracy of the National Mesonet Program (NMP) which provides reliable, real-time data and observations for weather prediction, severe weather warnings, and emergency response.
  • This legislation seeks to increase the number of public-private partnerships across the country, as well as expand and improve the quality and quantity of data collected by established systems.

The WING Act requires the National Weather Service to coordinate with the Assistant Administrator for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and establish an R&D program to improve weather radar detection and prediction capabilities when physical structures like wind turbines obstruct radar line of sight.