TULSA - Just hours before a deadly tornado slammed into a mobile home park just southwest of Sand Springs, a House committee passed a bill that would devote more money to forecasting.
The bill has been pushed by two Oklahoma lawmakers, Rep. Frank Lucas and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, both Republicans.
The Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Weather Research and Forecast Innovation Act of 2015 (HR 1561) by a voice vote Wednesday.
In a statement sent to KRMG, Mr. Lucas said “severe weather routinely affects large portions of the United States, and as a representative from Oklahoma, I understand the need for improvement first hand. The United States needs a world-class weather prediction system that helps protect the American people and their property. Unfortunately, for the last few years, our leadership in weather forecasting has slipped and we now play second fiddle to the European forecasting offices, who often predict America’s weather better than we can. The bill before us today will help us reclaim superior weather prediction and forecasting capabilities. Our citizens deserve this.”
Mr. Bridenstine added that “The Weather Forecasting Innovation and Research Act is an important step toward moving to a day when we have zero deaths from severe weather events, such as tornadoes which can be devastating in my home state of Oklahoma. By prioritizing funding within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, we can advance critical technologies and capabilities to vastly improve weather forecasting in the United States and save lives and property. Additionally, I am particularly proud of the inclusion of a pilot program for purchasing and testing commercial satellite weather data in this bill. There are several technologies and data sets that private industry can provide for NOAA, and this program will serve as a signal from Congress and NOAA that this information is needed and wanted.”
Bridenstine has told KRMG that 13 other agencies study global warming, and that NOAA needs to focus on forecasting, which he sees as more immediate need.