(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
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.
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
The amendments are as follows:
Strike all after the enacting clause and insert the
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
More research is needed into how meteorologists
present information and how the public receives that weather
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
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
VI. SUMMARY OF THE MAJOR PROVISIONS
The legislation, as reported by the Committee, has two
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Steven M. Lieberman
(For Dan L. Crippen, Director).
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
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
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
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.