TULSA - Oklahoma Congressman Jim Bridenstine saw the House pass his bill designed to greatly increase the power and accuracy of storm prediction on a voice vote Tuesday evening.
The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act (HR2413), according to Bridenstine's website, "aims to protect lives and property by shifting funds from climate change research to severe weather forecasting research."
Bridenstine says 13 different agencies study climate change, while only one actually researches storm prediction.
That would be the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, but Bridenstine learned it also spends the majority of its research dollars on climate change.
He want to redirect NOAA's efforts to predicting violent storms, an idea sparked by last year's deadly tornadoes in Oklahoma.
The National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Oklahoma is studying how to apply military-grade radar detection to storm prediction.
Familiar with integrated radar systems because of his experience as a Navy pilot, Bridenstine believes it has the potential to predict tornadoes an hour before they actually form.
His goal: Zero deaths from tornadoes in the United States.
"We know that we can predict tornadoes over an hour in advance, and we can warn people not based on the detection of a tornado, which is what happened in Moore, Oklahoma, which resulted in many deaths and loss of property."
He continued, "if we can warn people based on the forecast of a tornado, we can give people a lead time of well over an hour."
He says it can be done, it has been done, and researchers say they believe they can now predict tornadoes nearly two hours in advance.
That, he says, would allow people to do more than just take cover -- they could get out of the way.
He emphasizes that the bill doesn't spend another dime, but simply reprioritizes how some money gets spent.
There has been some opposition, he says, because people want to protect research funding for climate change.
But, he says, "tornadoes are non-partisan," and when Democrats -- especially those from tornado-prone states -- sat and listened to what he wants to do, they got on board.