TULSA - Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine has a goal: Zero tornado deaths in the United States.
He has introduced a bill called the"Weather Forecasting Improvement Act," (HR2413) designed to shift research funding from climate change research to severe weather prediction research.
He emphasizes that the bill doesn't require any additional funding.
He says more than a dozen agencies current spend billions to research climate change and global warming, but only one agency researches storm prediction -- that is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its child agency, the National Weather Service (NWS).
But NOAA, he says, actually spends about two-thirds of its research money on climate change, and Bridenstine says that needs to change.
His bill would direct NOAA to focus on better forecasting, with an eye to saving lives and protecting property.
He tells KRMG radar technology used by the military could be used to give as much as an hour's warning of a tornado, actually triggering that warning before the tornado forms.
The phased-array radar, according to Steve Piltz at the National Weather Service office in Tulsa, can completely map a storm system from the ground to its top in about 30 seconds, a process that takes about four and a half minutes using current technology.
Piltz says more research is needed, and Bridenstine says his bill would ensure that NOAA's funding gets used for that and other life-saving research.
It made it out of a subcommittee and committee, and now moves to the House floor.