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U.S. House passes bill to improve tornado forecasting

Legislation by Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine is aimed at better coordinating federal weather research efforts and tapping the expertise of universities and private companies.
by Chris Casteel Published: April 2, 2014

With tornado season about to begin, the U.S. House passed a bill Tuesday by Rep. Jim Bridenstine aimed at boosting federal weather forecasting capabilities and lengthening the warning time for tornadoes.

The legislation passed by voice vote and now goes to the Senate.

Bridenstine, R-Tulsa, said the bill would rebalance the priorities of the federal agencies involved in weather research and forecasting. It “helps get weather research projects out of the lab and into the field,” he said.

Bridenstine and other lawmakers said the legislation would also push the federal agencies to incorporate input from the broader weather community, including private companies and universities.

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, D-Ore., said the legislation presses the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “to get serious about exploring private sector solutions for their data needs.” Moreover, she said, it would tap the expertise of social scientists about how to convey severe weather warnings to the public.

At a hearing on the bill last summer, Kelvin Droegemeier, professor of meteorology and vice president of research at the University of Oklahoma, told a House subcommittee that research on storm warnings should include an examination of how people respond to them.

“We need to understand how we convey and formulate uncertainty in messaging to the public, how the public responds and comprehends warning information,” Droegemeier told a Science, Space and Technology subcommittee.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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