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Weather bill signed, U.S. Rep. says will save lives in severe storms

Congressman Jim Bridenstine proposed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act in 2013. (KTUL)

A monumental decision on Capitol Hill has the potential to save countless lives in the heartland.

Congressman Jim Bridenstine proposed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act in 2013. It’s a mouthful of a title, but its purpose is simple. Save lives during severe weather.

What does five minutes mean? When a tornado is bearing down, it could mean everything.

“A number of us on the Science Committee wanted to do something impactful,” says Bridenstine.

Congressman Bridenstine helped author a revolutionary bill that will allow the National Weather Service to keep up with advancing tech in the private sector.

“[It will] start allowing us, authorizing us to buy commercial data,” Bridenstine says. “To feed the numerical weather model that will ultimately give us more lead times for tornados and other things.”

President Trump signed the bill into law Tuesday night after a four-year journey through Congress.

“We got the attention of the senators we needed to get the attention of,” he says. “And we finally got this bill passed.”

The bill’s implications will be far reaching and immediate.

“I think it's going to actually move us to a day where we have zero deaths from tornados,” he says. “This isn’t going to get it done, but it’s moving us towards that day.”

Bridenstine says it’s not just about ‘research and innovation’ as the title suggests.

“We’re talking about prioritization,” he says standing outside the new downtown Hampton. “The one thing N.O.A.A should be focused on is lives and property. Because a lot of times they do things that are not focused on lives and property.”

This bill does go into effect immediately, so the government can start buying data today. But Bridenstine does say it will take some time to figure out exactly what those numbers say.

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