Rep. Lucas says wildfires show need for improved weather forecasting


The wildfires that burned more than 1 million acres of land in western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle in recent weeks made Oklahoma Congressman Frank Lucas realize quickly how important weather forecasting is.

During a recent House Science, Space and Technology Committee hearing he chaired, the Representative whose farm and ranch are located in western Oklahoma, relayed his concerns.

“I looked at the Oklahoma Mesonet to see the most up to date conditions in my area. I closely monitored the National Weather Service’s fire weather outlooks for the coming days, so I knew what to expect. And I made critical decisions based on the weather data, models, and forecasts that were available to me,” he told committee members.

His remarks came during a hearing on Winning in Weather: U.S. Competitiveness in Forecasting and Modeling.

“This hearing couldn’t come at a more crucial time. Last week, the Smokehouse Creek fire burned over 1 million acres in Western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle,” said Lucas.

He noted how it had been seven years since the passage of the Weather Act of 2017.

“The tools and data I used last week are more accurate and readily available than they were before that bill. But I believe there is more we can do for the U.S. weather enterprise to be at the forefront of forecasting and modeling,” continued the Representative.

Read his full remarks here.


  • On March 5, Congressman Lucas joined a letter to USDA Secretary Vilsack urging him to authorize emergency grazing on eligible Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) acres.
  • On March 7, the USDA authorized emergency haying and grazing of CRP acres in Oklahoma.
  • The USDA can also provide financial resources through Farm Bill programs like EQIPLIP, and ELAP to help producers recover from the recent wildfire. Farmers and ranchers needing to rehabilitate farmland can also apply for assistance through the USDA’s Emergency Conservation Program.