S. 3817 would direct the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve the forecasting and communication of hazardous weather events, including tornadoes. The bill also would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to report on the information technology infrastructure of the National Weather Service (NWS).
The bill would authorize the appropriation of $7.5 million annually over the 2023-2030 period for NOAA to continue to implement the VORTEX-USA program to develop accurate and timely tornado forecasts, predictions, and warnings. Using information on historical spending patterns for the program, CBO estimates that continuing the program would cost $33 million over the 2022-2027 period and $27 million after 2027, assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts. In 2022, NOAA allocated $7.5 million to the program.
NOAA already completes many of the activities that would be required under S. 3817 through NWS’s Hazard Simplification Program and the Weather Program Office’s Social Science Program. However, the bill also would require NOAA to create a pilot program for communicating tornado hazards and develop methods to prevent tampering with online communication concerning hazardous weather events.