Legislation to update nation’s weather research, forecasting sponsored by Lucas

U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) on Oct. 26 led a sweeping bipartisan bill that would continue strengthening and advancing weather research by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Reauthorization Act of 2023, or the Weather Act Reauthorization Act of 2023, H.R. 6093, also would support improvements in NOAA’s weather forecasting and prediction and expand commercial opportunities for the provision of weather data, according to the text of the 112-page bill.

“Accurate and reliable weather forecasting is crucial for American communities nationwide and this bill invests in the research, resources, and innovative tools NOAA needs to continue to expand its incredible capabilities and provide the best forecasting in the world,” said Rep. Lucas, chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. 

“From bolstering our commercial partnerships to improving subseasonal forecasting, this reauthorization ensures our weather enterprise continues to thrive and is a dependable resource when critical weather events strike,” the congressman added.

Rep. Lucas sponsored H.R. 6093 alongside 13 original cosponsors, including U.S. Reps. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Jay Obernolte (R-CA), and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) to also establish new programs to advance forecasting, enhance emergency preparedness, and advance tools for farmers, ranchers, and resource managers, according to a bill summary provided by Rep. Lucas’ staff.

“I want to thank Ranking Member Lofgren, our committee members, and national stakeholders for working to deliver an impactful piece of legislation,” Rep. Lucas said. “This is another crucial step in protecting lives and property across the country.”

The bill includes provisions from 12 different stand-alone bills and touches on the interests of 34 Republican and Democrat members who cosponsored those bills, the summary says.

“This introduction is a key step in bolstering our nation’s ability to understand and respond to weather and climate disasters,” said Rep. Lofgren. “I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues as we fine tune this legislation to maximize NOAA’s ability to keep Americans safe.”

If enacted, H.R. 6093 would improve severe weather forecasting by modernizing the research programs authorized by the 2017 Weather Act, including tornado warning capabilities and hurricane forecasting capacity; support forecasting by establishing new research and development programs related to the next generation of radar, atmospheric rivers, coastal flooding and storm surges, aviation weather, and more; and increase NOAA’s access to forecasting data by expanding its authority to contract with the private sector to acquire commercial weather data, the summary says.

Additionally, among other provisions, H.R. 6093 would ramp up emergency preparedness by improving the communication of weather and water events to the public from critical warnings to emergency information, and provide farmers and ranchers with better tools and services for agriculture and water management, states the summary.

The measure has been referred for consideration to the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.