House approves $12 million extra for tornado research


WASHINGTON — The House on Thursday agreed to add $12 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s budget for research aimed at lowering the death toll from tornadoes.

“We now know that technology exists that can predict tornadoes nearly one hour in advance. This technology will move us toward a day when we have zero deaths from tornadoes,” said Rep. Jim Bridenstine, R-Okla.

Bridenstine’s request for additional funding comes less than a month after a series of deadly storms ripped across the Midwest and South, leaving at least 36 dead — including 16 in Arkansas — and injured hundreds of others.

The House voted 340-71 in favor, bringing the total budget for weather laboratories and research to $76 million for the fiscal year that begins in October. The vote came on an amendment to an annual appropriations bill that would shift $12 million from the Census Bureau to NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The House was still considering amendments to the Commerce, Justice and Science appropriations bill Thursday evening. Final passage was expected around midnight.

Bridenstine said NOAA would be able to accelerate research that would lead to improvements in weather forecasting and better predictions of high-impact weather events associated with hurricanes and tornadoes.

“NOAA is the only federal agency tasked with providing accurate and timely forecasts. I believe this amendment is a big step forward in reflecting this priority,” Bridenstine said.