This bill authorizes $120 million (for 2017 and 2018 respectively) to improve forecasting of severe weather events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be responsible for improving forecasting and for managing other related programs and research.
First, the bill tasks the Office of Atmospheric Research (OAR) with running a program to increase public understanding and response to weather forecasts and warnings. The program would study things like how people currently interpret and use forecasts. It would also research how to improve and more widely distribute new forecast technology. A working group to improve the NOAA's forecasting ability would also be created.
Programs to improve and expand tornado and hurricane warning systems would be developed. It also charges the Assistant Administrator for OAR with coming up with a research plan every six months, while the the NOAA’s Chief Information Officer would have to make a report on how their agency will use technological advancements to improve forecasts. Meanwhile, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere reevaluate what scientists observe to make forecasts.
The bill also amends existing law so that commercial providers can buy weather information from U.S. satellites, or place their own weather-detecting equipment on U.S. satellites. Accordingly, the Secretary of Commerce will give the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a strategy on public-private cooperation in spreading weather data.
Finally, there are several measures within this bill aimed at increasing coordination between agencies. They include an employee exchange between NWS and OAR, a postdoctoral fellow program at NWS and Inter-agency Committee for Advancing Weather Services, which the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy will establish in order to share weather information among scientific agencies.