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Legislation that aims to improve forecasts for everything from hurricanes to tornadoes has passed both houses of Congress.

Congress passes bill to help future of weather forecasting

Thursday, April 6, 2017, 3:14 - With bipartisan support, both houses of Congress have passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, H.R. 353.

The bill aims at improving the quality of both short and long range high impact weather events and their effects.

It also gives National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service the go-ahead to establish a number of programs to enhance forecasting and alerts.

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"This bill will help the nation's weather and climate enterprise by focusing research and computing resources on improved weather forecasting, quantitative observing data planning, next generation modeling, an emphasis on research-to-operations technology transfer, an urban weather research effort, and the codification of an advisory group to NOAA on environmental information services," Dr. Kevin Petty, Chief Science Officer of Vaisala Inc. said in a statement. "The legislation will also establish policies that will encourage public-private partnerships for integrating the myriad of data sources into more timely and accurate weather predictions."

The Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act is the first major weather legislation enacted in more than a decade if signed by President Trump. 

Officials say improving short and long-term weather predictions will have major implications for public safety and the economy. 

"Severe weather routinely affects large portions of the United States," House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) presented to Congress. "Nearly every year, we witness the devastating effects of tornadoes and intense storms across our country. This bill will ensure that Americans are more protected from severe weather because of accurate supercomputing forecasts and earlier warnings." 

According to the Washington Post, the bill will also offer guidance on which programs should get the more than $170-million already budgeted by the President and Congress.

The bill was developed in a bipartisan fashion led by Representatives Lamar Smith and Eddie Bernice Johnson (both from Texas) and Representative Bridenstine and Representative Frank Lucas, both from Oklahoma, and Representative Suzanne Bonamici from Oregon. In the Senate the effort was led by Senator John Thune from South Dakota, Senator Brian Schatz from Hawaii, Senator Cory Gardner from Colorado, and Senator Bill Nelson from Florida, all members of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

For a complete summery of H.R. 353: Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, click here.

WATCH BELOW: 'Forecast bill will 'transform industry''

SOURCES: UCAR | | GlobeNewswire | GovTrack |  Washington Post

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