H.R. 2413: The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2014

H.R. 2413

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2014

Date
April 1, 2014 (113th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On Tuesday, April 1, 2014, the House will consider H.R. 2413, the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2014, under a suspension of the rules.  H.R. 2413 was introduced on June 18, 2013 by Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, which ordered the bill reported, as amended, by voice vote.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2413 establishes that the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere should prioritize weather-related activities for the protection of lives and property and the enhancement of the economy in the planning and management of programs within all National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) line offices.  Furthermore, this legislation codifies existing weather research activities and requires the Assistant Administrator for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) to: 1) conduct a program to develop improved understanding of and forecast capabilities for atmospheric events and their impacts; 2) establish a tornado warning improvement and extension program with the goal of reducing loss of life and economic losses from tornadoes; and 3) develop a hurricane warning improvement program with the goal of developing and extending accurate hurricane forecasts and warnings.

Moreover, H.R. 2413 requires the Assistant Administrator for OAR to, not later than six months after the bill’s enactment, issue a research and development plan to restore and maintain U.S. leadership in numerical weather prediction and forecasting.  This legislation also requires the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere to: 1) develop and maintain a prioritized list of observation data requirements necessary to ensure weather forecasting capabilities; 2) undertake ongoing systematic evaluations of the systems, data, and information needed to meet these requirements; 3) identify current and future data gaps in observing capabilities; and 4) determine the range of options to address data gaps.

Furthermore, this legislation requires the Assistant Administrator for the OAR to undertake Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) to assess the relative value and benefits of observing capabilities and systems, including assessments on global weather prediction, hurricane track and intensity forecasting, tornado warning times and accuracy, and prediction of mid-latitude severe local storm outbreaks.  OSSEs would be required to be conducted prior to the acquisition of major Government-owned or Government-leased operational observing systems, and prior to the purchase of new commercially provided data critical to forecast accuracy.  Additionally, this legislation requires the NOAA Chief Information Officer and the Assistant Administrator for the OAR to produce a report detailing how NOAA will pursue the most cost effective high-performance computing technologies in support of its weather prediction mission.  H.R. 2413 permits the purchase of weather data through contract with commercial providers, and allows the placement of weather satellite instruments on co-hosted government or private payloads.  Finally, this legislation requires the Under Secretary to establish an advisory committee to provide advice for prioritizing weather research initiatives at NOAA, and requires the Director of the Office and Science and Technology Policy to establish a Committee to improve coordination of relevant weather research and forecast innovation activities.

Background

Recent analysis has found that more than three percent of our national economy and nearly $500 billion a year could be impacted by weather variability.[1]  According to that same analysis, the rise in weather disasters has cost the economy up to $1 billion in damage per weather event.[2]  The rise in damaging weather events has “underscored the need for timely, accurate, and reliable weather forecasts.”[3]  Technological advancements in computing, remote sensing, and advanced radar have the potential to improve weather prediction, but have not been fully utilized by government agencies.[4]  H.R. 2413 will improve this process by prioritizing NOAA resources toward programs that invest in affordable and effective improvements in weather forecasting and modeling capabilities.   



[2] Id. at 7.

[3] Id. at 7.

[4] Id. at 8.

Cost

CBO estimates that implementing H.R. 2413 would cost $356 million over the 2015-2019 period.[1] Enacting H.R. 2413 would not affect direct spending or revenues. The bill does not increase the overall authorization for NOAA or for its Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

Additional Information

For questions or further information contact the GOP Conference at 5-5107.