The TORNADO Act would require the NOAA to update its methods for communicating alerts to residents in the surrounding areas.
On Tuesday, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) joined colleagues in introducing the Tornado Observation Research Notification and Deployment to Operations (TORNADO) to improve the forecasting and understanding of tornadoes and other hazardous weather.
Senator Wicker said that December’s four-state tornado outbreak and Iowa’s recent tornado brought catastrophic damage and claimed dozens of lives.
“These deadly outbreaks showed that even when tornadoes are well-forecasted, lead times and warnings do not always ensure the public can respond or that appropriate shelter is available. Nighttime storms can also make notification more difficult and hinder the ability to see approaching tornadoes. The TORNADO Act would ensure that NOAA is working to improve hazardous weather forecasting and communication to help prevent the loss of life and property in future storms,” Senator Wicker said.
Senator Hyde-Smith stated that Mississippians are no strangers to the dangers of tornadoes, especially this time of year.
“Improving forecasting and modernizing how NOAA alerts communities to hazardous weather will do more to get residents to safety faster, potentially saving lives,” Hyde-Smith said.
The TORNADO Act would establish a Hazard Risk Communications Office to simplify and improve the communication of alerts and require NOAA to prepare and submit an action plan for the national implementation of high-resolution probabilistic guidance for tornado forecasting and prediction.
The legislation would also encourage NOAA to evaluate the current tornado rating system and make updates, establish a pilot program in collaboration with a historically Black college or university in close proximity to a Weather Forecast Office to test the effectiveness of implementing new techniques for hazardous weather communication, and require NOAA to coordinate with appropriate entities when conducting post-storm assessments to optimize data collection, sharing, and integration.
You can read a full copy of the TORNADO Act below.