Senate passes bill to improve weather research, forecasting

Hurricane Joaquin reaches Category 4 strength near the Bahamas on October 1, 2015 (Image: NOAA)

WASHINGTON – Legislation aimed at bolstering weather predictions and research has unanimously passed in the U.S. Senate.

The senate approved the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2016 (H.R. 1561) Thursday night.

If approved by the House of Representatives and signed by the president, it will become the first major piece of weather legislation adopted since the early 1990s, according to the Washington Post.

This legislation specifically aims to improve and advance:

  • Seasonal forecasting
  • Forecast communication
  • Tornado and hurricane forecasting
  • Tsunami warnings
  • Satellite governance

“These reforms will help ensure that Americans benefit from advancements in weather forecasting and make federal forecasters better stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said John Thune (R-S.D), chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. “From long-term forecasting that can prevent costly agricultural losses to more actionable information about severe weather, this legislation will help save lives and reduce avoidable property loss.”

“The bill strengthens the science to forecast severe heat and cold, storms, tornadoes, tsunamis, draughts, floods, and hurricanes so that our warnings are more timely and accurate,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “The bill also improves how the government communicates these threats to the public, so that families and businesses can stay safe and be prepared so that they can recover quicker. We cannot stop a tsunami or a hurricane, but better forecasts and better warnings will save lives and livelihoods.”