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107th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     107-495

======================================================================



 
        INLAND FLOOD FORECASTING AND WARNING SYSTEM ACT OF 2002

                                _______
                                

  June 5, 2002.--Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the 
              State of the Union and ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

  Mr. Boehlert, from the Committee on Science, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 2486]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

  The Committee on Science, to whom was referred the bill (H.R. 
2486) to authorize the National Weather Service to conduct 
research and development, training, and outreach activities 
relating to tropical cyclone inland forecasting improvement, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, report 
favorably thereon with amendments and recommend that the bill 
as amended do pass.

                                CONTENTS

                                                                   Page
   I. Amendment.......................................................2
  II. Purpose of the Bill.............................................2
 III. Background and Need for the Legislation.........................2
  IV. Summary of Hearings.............................................3
   V. Committee Actions...............................................5
  VI. Summary of Major Provisions of the Bill.........................5
 VII. Section-by-Section Analysis (by Title and Section)..............5
VIII. Committee Views.................................................6
  IX. Cost Estimate...................................................6
   X. Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate.......................7
  XI. Compliance With Public Law 104-4 (Unfunded Mandates)............8
 XII. Committee Oversight Findings and Recommendations................8
XIII. Statement on General Performance Goals and Objectives...........8
 XIV. Constitutional Authority Statement..............................8
  XV. Federal Advisory Committee Statement............................8
 XVI. Congressional Accountability Act................................8
XVII. Statement of Preemption of State, Local, or Tribal Law..........9
XVIII.Changes in Existing Law Made by the Bill, as Reported...........9

 XIX. Committee Recommendations.......................................9

                              I. Amendment

  The amendments are as follows:
  Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the 
following:

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

  This Act may be cited as the ``Inland Flood Forecasting and Warning 
System Act of 2002''.

SEC. 2. AUTHORIZED ACTIVITIES.

  The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, through the 
United States Weather Research Program, shall--
          (1) improve the capability to accurately forecast inland 
        flooding (including inland flooding influenced by coastal and 
        ocean storms) through research and modeling;
          (2) develop, test, and deploy a new flood warning index that 
        will give the public and emergency management officials fuller, 
        clearer, and more accurate information about the risks and 
        dangers posed by expected floods;
          (3) train emergency management officials, National Weather 
        Service personnel, meteorologists, and others as appropriate 
        regarding improved forecasting techniques for inland flooding, 
        risk management techniques, and use of the inland flood warning 
        index developed under paragraph (2); and
          (4) conduct outreach and education activities for local 
        meteorologists and the public regarding the dangers and risks 
        associated with inland flooding and the use and understanding 
        of the inland flood warning index developed under paragraph 
        (2).

SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

  There are authorized to be appropriated to the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration for carrying out this Act $1,150,000 for 
each of the fiscal years 2003 through 2007. Of the amounts authorized 
under this section, $250,000 for each fiscal year shall be available 
for competitive merit-reviewed grants to institutions of higher 
education (as defined in section 101 of the Higher Education Act of 
1965 (20 U.S.C. 1001)) to develop models that can improve the ability 
to forecast the coastal and estuary-inland flooding that is influenced 
by tropical cyclones. The models should incorporate the interaction of 
such factors as storm surges, soil saturation, and other relevant 
phenomena.

SEC. 4. REPORT.

  Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, 
and annually thereafter through fiscal year 2007, the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration shall transmit to the Committee on 
Science of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, 
Science, and Transportation of the Senate a report on its activities 
under this Act and the success and acceptance of the inland flood 
warning index developed under section 2(2) by the public and emergency 
management professionals.
  Amend the title so as to read:

      A bill to authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, through the United States Weather Research 
Program, to conduct research and development, training, and 
outreach activities relating to inland flood forecasting 
improvement, and for other purposes.

                        II. PURPOSE OF THE BILL

    The purpose of H.R. 2486 is to authorize the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), through the 
United States Weather Research Program (USWRP), to improve the 
capability to forecast inland flooding through research and 
modeling, and to develop, test, and deploy a new flood warning 
index.

              III. BACKGROUND AND NEED FOR THE LEGISLATION

    In 1999, Hurricane Floyd killed 48 people and caused nearly 
$3 billion in property damage, primarily through the flooding 
of inland communities. In 2000, Tropical Storm Allison 
unexpectedly dumped more than 35 inches of rain in Texas and 
traveled from Texas eastward through much of the Southeast 
United States resulting in more than 50 deaths, again primarily 
as a result of inland flooding. While the National Weather 
Service has the ability to accurately predict most flood 
events, it has difficulty in forecasting coastal and estuary-
inland flooding events that are caused by tropical cyclones. In 
addition, the flood warning index (or scale) currently used by 
the National Weather Service does not include enough 
information about the potential risks and dangers posed by 
expected floods.
    The USWRP is a $9 million multi-agency collaborative effort 
of research communities, academia, and government. The focus of 
the program is to integrate weather-related research and new 
developments in technology with current operational weather 
products. The government participants include NOAA, which 
houses USWRP, the National Science Foundation, the National 
Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and the Department 
of Defense.

                         IV. SUMMARY OF HEARING

Weatherproofing the U.S.: Are We Prepared for Severe Storms?

October 11, 2001, Hearing Volume No. 107-31

    The purpose of the hearing was to receive testimony about 
research efforts into the prediction of severe storms, with 
emphasis on hurricanes, flooding, and wind-related damage. The 
hearing addressed the needs of emergency management officials 
to ensure the public is adequately warned about storms and 
their effects. In addition, the hearing examined three related 
legislative issues: H.R. 2486, the Tropical Cyclone Inland 
Forecasting Improvement and Warning System Development Act, 
introduced by Representative Etheridge; draft legislation by 
Representative Moore on research related to severe wind damage 
and its amelioration; and reauthorization of the U.S. Weather 
Research Program (USWRP).
    The Subcommittee heard testimony from: (1) Dr. Chris 
Landsea, Hurricane Research Division, Atlantic Oceanographic 
and Meteorological Laboratory, NOAA; (2) Dr. Len Pietrafesa, 
Director of External Affairs, College of Mathematical Sciences, 
North Carolina State University; (3) Dr. Steven L. McCabe, 
Professor and Department Chair, Department of Civil and 
Environmental Engineering, University of Kansas; (4) John L. 
Hayes, Director, Office of Science and Technology, National 
Weather Service; Co-chair, U.S. Weather Research Program; (5) 
Doug Hill, Chief Meteorologist, WJLA--Channel 7 News, 
Washington, D.C.; and (6) Robert Shea, Acting Administrator for 
Federal Insurance and Mitigation, Federal Emergency Management 
Agency (FEMA).
    Dr. Landsea presented his research regarding hurricanes and 
the likelihood of increased hurricane activity in the coming 
decades. He noted that:
     The formation of hurricanes requires a specific 
combination of environmental factors, such as warm sea surface 
temperatures, which provide energy for hurricane formation, and 
the lack of wind shears, which can inhibit hurricane formation.
     Hurricane activity seems to be cyclical: the 1940s 
through the 1960s were quite active, while the 1970s through 
the early 1990s were relatively quiet.
     It appears the Atlantic Ocean is beginning to 
enter another active period, posing more danger to the East 
Coast than the previous period of activity because of increased 
population and economic development.
    Dr. Pietrafesa discussed the need for an interdisciplinary 
approach to improving the prediction of severe storms through 
research and management. He emphasized that:
     The root of the difficulty in improving 
predictions lies in the interactions between the environmental 
physical system, which is not well understood, and the human 
system, with its social and demographic characteristics. For 
example, communities along the shores of the East Coast have 
dramatically increased development in the past 20 years, 
despite the knowledge that a hurricane or large tropical storm 
could cause significant damage to property and life.
     In North Carolina, Category 2 Hurricanes (as 
opposed to those much stronger) are responsible for 42 percent 
of all damage. Category 2 Hurricanes generally have a high 
moisture content and cause severe rain and inland flooding, the 
latter of which is hard to predict because of the complex 
interaction of estuarian, coastal, and inland waterways.
     Adequate funding of the USWRP will increase our 
ability to improve prediction and preparation for severe storm 
events.
     He supports the legislation put forth by 
Congressman Etheridge to develop a new flood warning index.
    Dr. Hayes discussed the importance of the USWRP. He stated 
that:
     Hazardous weather, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, 
and winter storms each year cause thousands of fatalities, even 
more injuries, and tens of billions of dollars in property 
damage.
     The USWRP can improve warning and forecast 
accuracies and lead times by more fully exploiting our advanced 
technologies and improving the scientific basis for weather 
prediction.
    Mr. Hill presented his perspective as a television 
meteorologist about communicating information on severe storms 
to the public. He testified that:
     Most people have become desensitized to emergency 
weather warnings.
     More research is needed into how meteorologists 
present information and how the public receives that weather 
information.
    Mr. Shea discussed the need to ensure that research into 
natural hazards is translated into effective practice for 
emergency managers and the public. He stated that:
     FEMA has been developing multi-hazard risk-
assessment and loss-estimation tools called HAZUS or Hazards 
U.S. The first tool developed covered earthquakes, the next one 
will evaluate flooding, and a prototype is being developed for 
wind issues.
     The HAZUS tools are designed to provide people at 
the federal, state and local level with information to 
understand the risks involved with specific natural hazards, 
and how to address them.
     Congressman Etheridge's legislation to create a 
new flood warning system, would educate local officials and the 
public about the new system, and help save lives.
     FEMA and the National Weather Service are working 
together to develop enhanced flood maps and flood modeling 
capabilities, but more collaboration is needed.

                          V. COMMITTEE ACTIONS

    Congressman Robert Etheridge introduced H.R. 2486 on July 
12, 2001. On October 11, 2001, the Environment, Technology, and 
Standards Subcommittee held a hearing on the legislation. On 
December 12, 2001, the Subcommittee met to consider H.R. 2486. 
Subcommittee Chairman Ehlers offered an amendment in the nature 
of a substitute, which was adopted by a voice vote. The 
amendment (1) designated NOAA, acting through the U.S. Weather 
Research Program, as the entity designed to carry out the 
activities associated with creating a new inland flood index, 
rather than the National Weather Service; (2) deleted 
references to tropical cyclones to broaden the scope of the new 
flood index to include all inland flooding, not just that 
caused by tropical cyclones; and (3) changed the date 
associated with the legislation from the fiscal years 2002 
through 2006 to fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to reflect the 
end of the fiscal year 2002 appropriations process for the 
Department of Commerce. The Subcommittee favorably reported the 
bill, H.R. 2486, as amended, by a voice vote.
    On May 22, 2002, the Committee on Science considered H.R. 
2486. No amendments were offered and the Committee favorably 
reported the bill, as amended by the subcommittee, by a voice 
vote.

                  VI. SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR PROVISIONS

    The legislation, as reported by the Committee, has two 
major provisions:
     The legislation requires NOAA to develop, test, 
and deploy a new flood warning index and provides a total of 
$5,750,000 for fiscal years 2003 through 2007 to carry out 
those activities.
     Of the amounts authorized, up to $250,000 for each 
fiscal year is designated for universities through competitive 
merit-reviewed grants to develop models that can improve the 
ability to forecast coastal and estuary-inland flooding 
influenced by tropical cyclones.

                    VII. SECTION-BY-SECTION ANALYSIS

Sec. 1.--Short title

    ``Inland Flood Forecasting and Warning System Act of 
2001''.

Sec. 2.--Authorized activities

    NOAA, through the United States Weather Research Program, 
is authorized to develop, test and deploy an inland flood 
warning index for use by public and emergency management 
officials. After developing the index, NOAA shall also train 
emergency management officials, National Weather Service 
personnel, meteorologists, and others as appropriate in the use 
of the new inland flood warning index, and conduct outreach and 
education activities for the public.

Sec. 3.--Authorization of appropriations

    Authorizes NOAA to be appropriated $1,150,000 each year of 
fiscal years 2003 through 2007, for a total of $5,750,000. Of 
this amount, up to $250,000 each fiscal year is available for 
competitive merit reviewed grants to institutions of higher 
education to improve the ability to forecast coastal and 
estuary-inland flooding associated with tropical cyclones.

Sec. 4.--Report

    Not later than 90 days after the bill is enacted and 
annually through fiscal year 2007, NOAA shall report to the 
House Science and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation 
Committees on the success and acceptance of the inland flood 
warning index.

                         VIII. COMMITTEE VIEWS

Sec. 2.--Authorized activities

    The National Weather Service currently uses a flood warning 
index that categorizes floods as minor, moderate, major, or 
flood of record. However, the Committee believes that this 
system does not provide enough practical information to the 
public about the risks and potential dangers posed by expected 
floods.
    After consultation with NOAA officials, the Committee 
determined that the U.S. Weather Research Program, a part of 
NOAA's research division, rather than the National Weather 
Service, would be more appropriate to develop a new index.

Sec. 3.--Authorization of appropriations

    The Committee has designated a portion of the funds that 
would be authorized under this act to improve the prediction of 
inland flooding caused by coastal and estuary overflow during 
severe storms. The National Weather Service has made 
improvements in its overall flood prediction capabilities 
through the Advanced Hydrological Prediction Service (AHPS), a 
modeling effort that incorporates more data at higher 
resolutions. However, this modeling effort is unable to 
accurately predict inland flooding events caused by water from 
coastal and estuary overflows during severe storms. Inland 
flooding has replaced coastal storm surges as the primary cause 
of deaths during recent tropical cyclones.
    Much of the research into modeling these coastal and 
estuary overflow events and the subsequent inland flooding has 
come from the university community. Therefore, the Committee 
has authorized funding for competitive, merit-reviewed grants 
to researchers for the development of models that would better 
incorporate the interaction of such factors as storm surges, 
soil saturation, and other relevant phenomena. The Committee 
expects that NOAA will use these models to improve forecasts, 
predictions, and warnings for inland flooding during tropical 
cyclones. The Committee believes that NOAA should develop a 
plan to have one modeling system that would be able to predict 
all flooding events instead of trying to use several different 
models.

Sec. 4.--Reports

    The legislation requires the NOAA report on its activities 
and the success and acceptance of the inland flood warning 
index by emergency management professionals and the public. The 
Committee expects that NOAA will successfully provide the 
necessary outreach and education activities to local 
meteorologists and the public regarding this new index to 
ensure its most effective use.

                           IX. COST ESTIMATE

    A cost estimate and comparison prepared by the Director of 
the Congressional Budget Office under section 402 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974 has been timely submitted to 
the Committee on Science prior to the filling of this report 
and is included in section X of this report pursuant to House 
Rule XIII, clause 3(c)(3).
    H.R. 2486 does not contain new budget authority, credit 
authority, or changes in revenues or tax expenditures. Assuming 
that the sums authorized under this bill are appropriated, H.R. 
2486 does authorize additional discretionary spending, as 
described in the Congressional Budget Office report on the 
bill, which is contained in section X of this report.

              X. CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 31, 2002.
Hon. Sherwood L. Boehlert,
Chairman, Committee on Science,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 2486, the Inland 
Flood Forecasting and Warning System Act of 2001.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                        Steven M. Lieberman
                                    (For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
    Enclosure.

               CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE COST ESTIMATE

H.R. 2486--Inland Flood Forecasting and Warning System Act of 2001

    Summary: H.R. 2486 would require the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration to improve its ability to forecast 
inland flooding through research and modeling. The bill would 
direct the agency to create and implement a flood warning 
index, train government and other personnel to use new 
forecasting methodologies, and conduct outreach and education. 
Finally, the bill would authorize the appropriation of $1.15 
million for each of fiscal years 2003 through 2007 for grants 
to develop forecasting models.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing the bill would cost $5 million over 
the 2003-2007 period. The legislation would not affect direct 
spending or receipts; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would 
not apply.
    H.R. 2486 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of H.R. 2486 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).
    For this estimate, CBO assumes that the amounts authorized 
by H.R. 2486 will be appropriated by the beginning of each 
fiscal year and that outlays will follow historical spending 
patterns for similar grant programs.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2003     2004     2005     2006     2007
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Inland flood forecasting and warning:
    Authorization level............................................        1        1        1        1        1
    Estimated outlays..............................................        1        1        1        1        1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Note.--NOAA's National Weather Service received $642 million in operating funds from fiscal year 2002
  appropriations, about $1.5 million of which was for advanced hydrological forecasting activities similar to
  those authorized by H.R. 2486.

    Pay-as-you-go considerations: None.
    Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments: 
H.R. 2486 contains no mandates as defined in UMRA and would 
impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments. The 
bill would benefit public universities by authorizing a total 
of $1.25 million in grant funding over the 2003-2007 period to 
institutions of higher education, including public 
universities, for developing models for improved flood 
forecasts. Any costs incurred by states would be voluntary.
    Estimated impact on the private sector: H.R. 2486 would 
impose no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal cost: Deborah Reis; impact on 
state, local, and tribal governments: Elyse Goldman; impact on 
the private sector: Patrice Gordon.
    Estimate approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

        XI. COMPLIANCE WITH PUBLIC LAW 104-4 (UNFUNDED MANDATES)

    H.R. 2486 contains no unfunded mandates.

         XII. COMMITTEE OVERSIGHT FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

    The Committee on Science's oversight findings and 
recommendations are reflected in the body of this report.

      XIII. STATEMENT ON GENERAL PERFORMANCE GOALS AND OBJECTIVES

    Pursuant to clause (3)(c)(4) of House Rule XIII, the goal 
or objective of the bill is to authorize the National Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Administration, through the United States 
Weather Research Program, to improve the capability to forecast 
inland flooding through research and modeling, and to develop, 
test, and deploy a new flood warning index.

                XIV. CONSTITUTIONAL AUTHORITY STATEMENT

    Article I, section 8 of the Constitution of the United 
States grants Congress the authority to enact H.R. 2486.

                XV. FEDERAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE STATEMENT

    H.R. 2486 does not establish nor authorize the 
establishment of any advisory committee.

                 XVI. CONGRESSIONAL ACCOUNTABILITY ACT

    The Committee finds that H.R. 2486 does not relate to the 
terms and conditions of employment or access to public services 
or accommodations within the meaning of section 102(b)(3) of 
the Congressional Accountability Act (Public Law 104-1).

      XVII. STATEMENT ON PREEMPTION OF STATE, LOCAL, OR TRIBAL LAW

    This bill is not intended to preempt any state, local, or 
tribal law.

      XVIII. CHANGES IN EXISTING LAW MADE BY THE BILL, AS REPORTED

    There are no changes to existing law.

                     XIX. COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATIONS

    On May 22, 2002, a quorum being present, the Committee on 
Science favorably reported H.R. 2486 by a voice vote, and 
recommended its enactment.