Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act - H.R.353 / S.570

"To improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather research through a focused program of investment on affordable and attainable advances in observational, computing, and modeling capabilities to support substantial improvement in weather forecasting and prediction of high impact weather events, to expand commercial opportunities for the provision of weather data, and for other purposes."
Primary Sponsors
Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) / Sen. John Thune (R-SD) and Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)
Final outcome

President signed H.R.353 into law, April 18, 2017

Summary of Selected Provisions
  • Authorizes a comprehensive atmospheric research program at NOAA, and directs NOAA to collaborate with the rest of the U.S. weather research community
  • Creates a new joint technology transfer initiative and tornado warning improvement and extension program in NOAA’s research office, and maintains the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program
  • Establishes a new seasonal forecasting program within the National Weather Service
  • Authorizes NOAA to purchase weather observations data from private companies, and requires NOAA to enter into at least one contract and assess the effectiveness of incorporating private data into its models
  • Charters multiple new exchange programs and coordinating committees to improve weather communication and coordination across the U.S. weather enterprise
  • Requires NOAA to maintain its tsunami warning centers, develop a rapid tsunami forecast capability, and study tsunami risk and triggering phenomena
  • Note: Congress has since amended the legislation through the National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act
Actions on the House bill
President signed bill into law
April 18, 2017
House passed amended version of bill by voice vote
April 4, 2017
Senate passed amended version of bill by unanimous consent
March 29, 2017
House passed bill by voice vote
Jan. 9, 2017
Bill introduced
Jan. 6, 2017
Actions on the Senate bill
Bill introduced
March 8, 2017
Relevant FYI Bulletins

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has new congressional guidance for its weather research, forecasting, and observations programs, including authorizations for a new seasonal forecasting program, a greater focus on research-to-operations, and improved coordination across the U.S. weather enterprise.

On Monday, the House passed a weather research and forecasting innovation bill that has been four years in the making. It is slightly different from a version the Senate passed in December which the House chose not to consider before the end of the 114th Congress.

A House Science subcommittee hearing brought together leaders of the weather community to explore the preferred balance between the three sectors - government, academic, and private – that make up the U.S. weather enterprise.

At full committee markups held on May 20 and June 25, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation approved two bills that aim to improve weather research, satellites, and services, at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in collaboration with the broader national weather enterprise.  The two bills - S. 1331, the “Seasonal Forecasting Improvement Act of 2015,” which is co-sponsored by Committee Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), and S.

“The bill before us today will help us reclaim superior weather prediction and forecasting capabilities.  Our citizens deserve this” said Rep. Frank Lucas (R-OK) at last week’s markup of H.R. 1561, “The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2015.” 

Lucas made his comments during a thirty minute session of the full House Science, Space, and Technology Committee.  The bill was passed by a bipartisan voice vote with no apparent opposition.