U.S. Senators Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are introducing the TORNADO Act, which seeks to simplify, update and improve forecasting technology and infrastructure. The legislation would also require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to review technical infrastructure problems that have delayed life-saving alerts.
After a tornado outbreak took seven lives earlier this month, the National Weather Service (NWS) confirmed technical issues caused some delay in disseminating tornado warnings – including a maximum delay of seven minutes for a tornado warning issued for the storm near Winterset, Iowa. NWS has confirmed at least 13 tornadoes touched down as this severe weather system swept across Iowa.
“I join our entire state in continuing to grieve the loss of seven members of our community and to pray for them, their families and their loved ones in the wake of those terrible storms days ago,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “It’s critical we do everything we can, as quickly as we can, to protect and keep our communities safe from these disastrous weather events, and this important legislation will go a long way in doing just that.”
“When it comes to keeping Iowans safe from severe weather and tornadoes, every second counts. Our bill will ensure NOAA is taking necessary steps to streamline life-saving alert systems and keeping their communication equipment up-to-date. One life lost is one too many, and I continue praying for those who lost loved ones in the recent tornado outbreak in Iowa. We must act to minimize these tragedies moving forward,” Grassley said.
Specifically, the TORNADO Act would:
- Establish a Hazard Risk Communication Office to simplify and improve the communication of alerts;
- Establish a pilot program to test the effectiveness of implementing new techniques for hazardous weather communication;
- 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.
Below are some resources for Iowans impacted by the recent severe weather:
- The Iowa Department of Human Services announced a confidential counseling program through Project Recovery Iowa. Iowans experiencing emotional distress can visit ProjectRecoveryIowa.org for more information.
- Residents can report damage to the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management by visiting HomelandSecurity.Iowa.Gov.
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