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Thune, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Improve Tornado Forecasting

Senators’ bill would improve tornado forecasting and the effectiveness of severe weather warnings

March 15, 2022

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) recently joined several of his colleagues in introducing the Tornado Observation Research Notification and Deployment to Operations (TORNADO) Act to improve the forecasting and understanding of tornadoes and other hazardous weather. The legislation would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) to update its methods for communicating alerts to residents in the surrounding areas.

“South Dakotans rely on weather warnings to protect their families, homes, and businesses from the devastating effects of tornadoes and other severe storms,” said Thune. “This common-sense legislation would improve the accuracy of tornado forecasting and streamline the weather alert system, which would lead to earlier, more accurate warnings for tornadoes and other severe weather.”

The TORNADO Act would:

  • Establish a Hazard Risk Communication Office to simplify and improve the communication of alerts;
  • Require NOAA to prepare and submit an action plan for the national implementation of high-resolution probabilistic guidance for tornado forecasting and prediction;
  • Encourage NOAA to evaluate the current tornado rating system and make updates; and
  • Require NOAA to coordinate with appropriate entities when conducting post-storm assessments to optimize data collection, sharing, and integration. 

The TORNADO Act is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Roger Wicker (R-Miss), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.).

Thune has long served as a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, which has jurisdiction over NOAA and other weather- and forecasting-related agencies and policies.