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Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017: Reporting Requirements

Reporting Mandates

As part of the Weather Act and its reauthorization, Congressionally-mandated reports and activities are required to be submitted to the U.S. Secretary of Commerce and/or to the U.S. Congress.  Once approved, post-decisional reports are collected and housed in the NOAA Institutional Repository for public use and availability.

Offices within NOAA with reporting requirements:

Weather Act Publications

All Weather Act Publications can be accessed via the NOAA Institutional Repository.

All 2020 & 2021 Reports

Triennial Report on Computing Resources Prioritization

Maintaining and growing High Performance Computing (HPC) capability is one of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) highest priorities. Advancements in operational forecasts, predictions, and projections cannot occur without sustained investment in NOAA’s HPC resources. NOAA’s HPC resources are critical to operational forecasts, predictions, projections, and applications, and to the research and development (R&D) modeling efforts to improve those operational products. Meeting NOAA’s mission requires a sustained growth and balance of operational HPC and R&D HPC. Both systems are required to maintain an effective and evolving program that is capable of delivering model-based products important to the Nation today and into the future.

Report to Congress: Gaps in NEXRAD Radar Coverage

The study examined the impact of radar coverage on warnings for tornadoes and flash floods, although it should be noted that radar also provides necessary observations to support other weather warnings (e.g., hail/severe thunderstorms, winter weather, hurricanes, etc.,) that are not addressed by the study and this report. Tornadoes and flash floods are rare events in general, and only a small fraction of those events cause fatalities. 

Report to Congress: United States Weather Research Program Annual Project Report

USWRP began in the 1990s, with a principal motivation to accelerate the rate of forecast improvements by taking advantage of science results and technology advancements, which satisfy an increased need for improved weather information in weather sensitive economic sectors.

Report to Congress: Radio Occultation Data Gap Mitigation Plan

The COSMIC-1 mission was launched in 2006 as a proof-of-concept for a new, inexpensive radio occultation (RO) atmospheric sounding technique as a partnership between Taiwan and the United States, and led by the National Science Foundation with participation of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Air Force, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Since early 2007, high fidelity RO atmospheric profile data from COSMIC-1 have led to important, measurable improvements in weather forecasts, and space weather monitoring and research. NOAA determined that continued access to RO measurements aligned with its mission to improve weather forecasts.

Report to Congress. Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation: Annual Report of Current and Planned Activities within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

This annual report is in response to the Title I, Section 102, (codified at 15 U.S.C. §8512) of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, 15 U.S.C. § 8501 (hereafter referred to as the Weather Act), which was passed into law by Congress on April 18, 2017.

Report to Congress. Subseasonal and seasonal forecasting innovation: plans for the twenty-first century

This report outlines the current use of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) S2S products and services, and how NOAA plans to improve the usability and transference of data, information, and forecasts. It will serve as a guidepost for NOAA planning and execution, as well as to inform the public and NOAA’s stakeholders on its efforts on subseasonal and seasonal forecasting. It was developed with input from Federal, regional, state, tribal, and local government agencies, research institutions, and the private sector. The report starts by identifying current S2S products and services, and then outlines innovations needed to enable and improve them. Two main goals for improving products and services are: (i) improving the skill of foundational tools in order to improve the skill of the official S2S forecasts, and (ii) enhancing the value of S2S products for stakeholders.

Previous Year Reports

  • Report to Congress: Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program. The Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP) began in 2009 and has significantly improved forecast performance for the last 10 years, while meeting the five-year goal to reduce track and intensity errors by 20 percent. Much remains to be done although the improvements are notable. The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (PL 115-123) provided $50 million for operational and research and development (R&D) high performance computing (HPC) at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which will be shared between NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and the National Weather Service (NWS). This funding will extend NOAA’s current computing capacity, including efforts related to HFIP, for the next three to four years. In addition, HFIP receives approximately $13.5 million in annual funding (Table 1), which directly supports the strategies listed in Table 2. The next generation of HFIP will continue its mission to reduce impacts of hurricanes through the implementation of these key strategies designed to improve forecasts and warnings, while achieving the NWS goal of building a Weather-Ready Nation. OAR and NWS will continue to address existing science and research-to-operations (R2O) challenges by improving regional and global models; transitioning promising innovations from research to operations; and partnering with academia, America’s Weather Industry1, and the emergency response community to achieve the objectives outlined for the next generation of HFIP, successfully addressing the requirements of Title I, Section 104 of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-25). Continued annual appropriations at the currently requested level will continue improvements described in this plan.
  • Report to Congress: Tornado Warning Improvement and Extension Program Plan. This plan describes the short-term and long-term efforts of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to achieve the Weather Act’s goal of tornado prediction beyond one hour. There are three interconnected science and technology components being developed within NOAA to achieve this goal: improved observations, including conventional and advanced radar technology; high-resolution computer prediction models; and a modern, optimized approach to communicate risk that is informed by social sciences. The plan details the observations and science necessary to develop and support these goals, including data from NOAA’s new geostationary satellites, advanced radar technologies, and detailed sensing of the lowest few thousand feet of the atmosphere. Such observations are integrated into improved, high-resolution models that will be able to accurately predict thunderstorm formation and evolution. The goal is to use social science to develop more effective ways to communicate this detailed information to the public and emergency management community, and to empower society to make protective action decisions and maximize the effectiveness of these forecast improvements.
  • Report To Congress: Short-Term Management of Environmental Observations-Microsatellite Constellations.  
  • Report to Congress: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Department of Homeland Security’s Report on National Efforts that Support Rapid Response Following Near-Shore Tsunami Events. The Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) prepared this report in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency and the United States Geological Survey in response to the following direction provided by the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017 (PL 115-25). It has been reviewed and edited by the National Guard Bureau. Certain areas of the United States, such as the Cascadia region of the Pacific Northwest (including Northern California), are particularly vulnerable to a near-shore tsunami event. Due to this concern, extensive research, assessment, and planning have been done by multiple Federal agencies and the states over the past three decades. The ability to quickly assess the effects of a domestic near-shore tsunami on people, infrastructure, and communities—and to facilitate rapid emergency response amid logistical and communication challenges unique to this type of event—must be considered within the existing emergency response framework of the United States. The capacity for rapid emergency response to near-shore tsunamis relies upon the existence and maintenance of key observing networks (e.g., seismic and water-level networks) and continued improvement of tsunami modeling techniques. It also relies upon clear plans and robust operational and interoperable communications for efficient situation assessment. Disaster exercises are the primary means to assess the effectiveness of preparedness, mitigation, and response plans. Full-scale exercises test a system from end-to-end. This requires hazard response planning; observation and situational assessment capabilities; systems supporting communications among response personnel and key leaders; and active participation by state and local governments.
  • Report to Congress: Commercial Weather Data Pilot Program. This document reports the results of the Commercial Weather Data Pilot (CWDP) Round No. I project conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in 2016 and 2017. The report describes the project initiation and execution, summarizes the technical results and lessons learned by NOAA, then presents an assessment of the current readiness of the commercial radio occultation (RO) industry to provide viable operational weather data to meet NOAA's needs.
  • Report to Congress: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Report on Requiring the TsunamiReady® Program to be Accredited by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program. The Emergency Management Accreditation Program (EMAP) is an independent, non-profit organization that oversees a very specific program through which all-hazard emergency management programs are accredited. The National Weather Service (NWS) TsunamiReady® program is not a comprehensive emergency management program and is intended to be a voluntary community recognition program that promotes tsunami hazard preparedness as an active collaboration among local, state, territorial, tribal and federal emergency management agencies, community leaders, and the public. In order for the NWS to administer an EMAP program, considerable additional staff and resources would be required. NWS is neither authorized nor appropriated to conduct the EMAP activity. The comprehensive EMAP process addressing prevention, mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery is well beyond the scope of the NWS mission and would require new legislative authority for NWS to spend funds to administer a TsunamiReady® EMAP, and would conflict and overlap with other federal agency (Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)) authority, and local government responsibility. NOAA stands ready to work with Congress, FEMA, and EMAP to address any concerns with NOAA’s TsunamiReady® program.
  • Report to Congress: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Report on Tsunami Warning & Education Act. This report responds to this Congressional direction. NOAA continues to operate a comprehensive, end-to-end tsunami forecast, warning and mitigation capability and implement the actions required by law. NOAA has been effective in obtaining the necessary supercomputing resources to run the tsunami prediction models, as directed by the Tsunami Warning and Education Act (TWEA) enacted as title VIII of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2006 (Public Law 109-479; 33 U.S.C. 3201 et seq.). NOAA also continues its ongoing efforts to engage federal, state, tribal, and local partners through administering the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program, as directed by TWEA. NOAA has been investing in applied research and, through Federal Fiscal Year 2018, is continuing its research and development activities, including improvement of near-field and distant tsunami detection and forecasting capabilities. NOAA is developing the 4th Generation of NOAA’s Deep-ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis (DART) detection system, and has incrementally improved the speed and accuracy of NOAA’s primary tsunami forecast system: Stand-by Inundation Forecast of Tsunamis (SIFT). NOAA is also pursuing a joint initiative with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to consider real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) offsets to augment traditional seismic analysis. All of these initiatives target increasing the speed and accuracy of near-field tsunami detection, measurement, and forecasting.
  • Report to Congress: Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and National Weather Service Exchange Program. The recommended exchange program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) between the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) has developed organically through scientific collaborations driven by research projects, operational needs, and co -location of facilities. To meet the guidance of the Weather Act, OAR and NWS will promote exchanges of up to 1 year between OAR research scientists and NWS forecasters and scientists, through existing OAR programs, with additional emphasis on opportunities between Line Office staff.
  • Assembling the data, analysis and findings from the 2015- 2016 Operations and Workforce Analysis of the National Weather Service (NWS). This catalog details the findings and ideas generated during the OWA from May 2015 to December 2016. The OWA was designed to assess NWS current operations and its workforce to generate ideas and strategies for the NWS to consider in support of the ultimate strategic outcome of building a Weather Ready Nation. It was also designed to respond to recommendations from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration, which were supported by Congress. At the end of this document is a brief discussion of how NWS are using these OWA findings and ideas to move forward.
  • Commercial Space Activities Assessment Process. NESDIS seeks efficient solutions to address NOAA’s need to measure key environmental phenomena from space. To meet these needs, NOAA integrates international, intergovernmental, and commercial capabilities, when practical, with NOAA’s own satellites into its global satellite observing system. Commercial space services is one emerging sector offering potential solutions to achieving increasing portions of NOAA’s required measurements. NPR 8010.01A outlines the process NESDIS will follow to implement the NOAA Commercial Space Policy (“NOAA Policy”). The purpose of NPR 8010.01A is to establish a process by which NESDIS will assess and pursue commercial opportunities to support NOAA’s space-based observational information requirements.
  • NOAA Commercial Space Policy. NOAA seeks to leverage commercial space capabilities to capitalize on available extramural expertise, to improve weather forecasting, diversify NOAA’s portfolio of data collection capabilities, to promote U.S. space commerce and the industrial base, and to pursue enhancements in mission areas, program schedules, and costs.