Sen. Schatz Co-Introduces Forecasting Act
Act S. 1331, the Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act, was introduced by United States Senator Brian Schatz and Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune Thursday.
The act would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve seasonal weather forecasts. These forecasts have been defined as a period more than two weeks and less than two years.
Senator Schatz hopes the improved forecasts could be used to better prepare and take precautionary measures.
“Seasonal forecast save lives and protect livelihoods,” said Senator Schatz. “Knowing about an active hurricane season in advance can make all the difference to prepare families and communities. With better information on the seasonal time scale, businesses as diverse as tourism, farming, and construction can plan ahead so people have jobs to return to after severe weather. Our legislation gives NOAA the tools to improve and expand its forecasting research, giving Hawai’i families, businesses, and local governments the information they need to plan ahead.”
Improvements proposed would better an existing system NOAA already has in place: the National Integrated Drought Information System. The NIDIS provides information that is valuable, such as drought status, and brings together federal, state, and local stakeholders to ensure the information is relevant and useable.
“Meaningful strides in longer-term forecasting appear within reach, but it will required a concerted effort that draws on existing models, data, research, and technology,” Senator Thune said. “Once achieved, seasonal forecasting will offer warnings about unusually cold winters, hot summers, drought, and other longer term weather trends. This information will aid Americans from many walks of life – from farmers looking to make informed decisions on crop planning to local governments stocking up on supplies to treat icy roads.”
Included in the act are provisions reforming satellite procurement by NOAA to a focus on the best value that includes the ability of equipment to integrate with current ground and space systems. Appropriations have been authorized by the legislation through the 2020 fiscal year, which would the opportunity for a review of current weather research programs and to establish a panel of science and engineering efforts to advise and assess weather forecast projects.
NOAA and other agencies are broadly under the jurisdiction of the Senate Commerce Committee.