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                                                       Calendar No. 629
                                                       
114th Congress    }                                        {    Report
                             SENATE                          
2d Session        }                                        {    114-351
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       


          METROPOLITAN WEATHER HAZARDS PROTECTION ACT OF 2015

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 2058





               September 15, 2016.--Ordered to be printed
               
               
               
               
                              _________ 
                                  
               U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
59-010                WASHINGTON : 2016                      
               
               
               
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                    one hundred fourteenth congress
                             second session

                   JOHN THUNE, South Dakota, Chairman
 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi         BILL NELSON, Florida
 ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
 MARCO RUBIO, Florida                 CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
 KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire          AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
 TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
 DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
 JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  ED MARKEY, Massachusetts
 DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 CORY BOOKER, New Jersey
 RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               TOM UDALL, New Mexico
 DEAN HELLER, Nevada                  JOE MANCHIN, West Virginia
 CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY PETERS, Michigan
 STEVE DAINES, Montana
                       Nick Rossi, Staff Director
                 Adrian Arnakis, Deputy Staff Director
                    Jason Van Beek, General Counsel
                 Kim Lipsky, Democratic Staff Director
           Christopher Day, Democratic Deputy Staff Director
                 Clint Odom, Democratic General Counsel
                 
                 
                 
                 



                                                       Calendar No. 629
                                                       
114th Congress     }                                     {      Report
                                SENATE
 2d Session        }                                     {     114-351

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



 
          METROPOLITAN WEATHER HAZARDS PROTECTION ACT OF 2015

                                _______
                                

               September 15, 2016.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

Mr. Thune, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2058]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2058) to require the Secretary 
of Commerce to maintain and operate at least one Doppler 
weather radar site within 55 miles of each city in the United 
States that has a population of more than 700,000 individuals, 
and for other purposes, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of S. 2058, the Metropolitan Weather Hazards 
Protection Act of 2015, is to direct the Secretary of Commerce 
to identify areas with gaps in radar coverage and develop a 
plan for addressing these gaps.

                          Background and Needs

    Doppler radars are used to determine the velocity of 
objects, such as precipitation and airplanes. The ubiquity of 
their images have made them one of the most widely recognized 
tools for weather predictions. The National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Weather Service's 
(NWS) radar network is made up of 158 NEXt-generation RADar 
(NEXRAD).\1\ In 2013, the NWS finished the software and 
hardware upgrades necessary to install dual polarization 
technology in all of its NEXRADs. ``Dual-pol'' radars can 
detect which type of precipitation is falling and capture the 
characteristic airborne debris created when a tornado touches 
ground.\2\ NEXRADs are no longer manufactured; however, the NWS 
is currently performing service life extensions\3\ on all of 
its NEXRADs, with the goal of extending their use for another 
20 years.\4\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, accessed December 3, 
2015, at http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/tools/radar/nexrad.
    \2\NOAA Weather Ready Nation, ``Dual-polarization radar: Stepping 
stones to building a Weather-Ready Nation,'' accessed December 3, 2015, 
at http://www.nws.noaa.gov/com/weatherreadynation/news/
130425_dualpol.html#.VmAqc7_S7GY.
    \3\NOAA National Weather Service Radar Operations Center, accessed 
December 3, 2015, at http://www.roc.noaa.gov/WSR88D/SLEP/SLEP.aspx.
    \4\R. D. Cook and T. L. Allmon, G. Secrest, A. D. Free, D. L. Rose, 
and J. M. Williams, ``A Service Life Extension Program for the WSR-88D 
Radars,'' paper presented at the American Meteorological Society's 30th 
Conference on Environmental Information Processing Technologies, 
Atlanta, Georgia, February 2-4, 2014, at https://ams.confex.com/ams/
94Annual/webprogram/Paper241171.html.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Of particular concern to the bill's sponsors, Charlotte, 
North Carolina, is currently covered by a NWS Doppler radar 
that is 94 miles away in Greer, South Carolina. No other city 
of Charlotte's size has a radar situated more than 55 miles 
away. The current location results in a majority of the 
metropolitan area being without radar beam coverage below 
10,000 feet. Due to the circumference of the Earth, the further 
a radar is from a given point the higher the radar beam scans 
the atmosphere, leading to lower resolutions and an inability 
to detect the low-level dynamics of severe weather. Rowan, 
Cabarrus, and Davidson Counties in North Carolina have an even 
more pronounced problem with limited radar coverage because of 
the location of the radar.
    Local meteorologists believe that the lack of quality radar 
coverage has made it difficult for the local NWS forecast 
office in Spartanburg, Tennessee to detect severe weather, 
specifically tornadoes. In March 2012, the NWS office failed to 
warn of a tornado that affected Mecklenburg, Rowan, and 
Cabarrus Counties of North Carolina. It can be very difficult 
to detect rotation in thunderstorms that tend to affect North 
Carolina; however, the lack of a Doppler radar for the Piedmont 
may enhance the problem.
    In addition, radar coverage over several other regions is 
sparse or limited. For example, Washington and New Mexico face 
significant gaps in radar coverage.

                         Summary of Provisions

    If enacted, S. 2058 would require the Secretary of Commerce 
to identify areas with gaps in radar coverage and develop a 
plan for addressing these gaps.

                          Legislative History

    S. 2058 was introduced by Senator Burr on September 17, 
2015. It was cosponsored by Senator Tillis. On December 9, 
2015, the Committee met in open Executive Session and, by a 
voice vote, ordered a substitute version of S. 2058 reported 
favorably. The substitute amendment was offered by Senator 
Cantwell.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 2058--Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act of 2015

    S. 2058 would require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) to complete a study that would identify 
areas without Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD). The study 
also would determine how NEXRAD could improve weather forecasts 
in those areas and would assess the feasibility of expanding 
radar capabilities in those areas. Finally, the bill would 
require NOAA to develop a peer-reviewed plan to improve radar 
coverage in underserved areas.
    Based on information provided by NOAA, CBO estimates that 
implementing S. 2058 would cost less than $500,000; such 
spending would be subject to the availability of appropriated 
funds. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or 
revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply. CBO 
estimates that enacting the legislation would not increase net 
direct spending or on-budget deficits in any of the four 
consecutive 10-year periods beginning in 2027.
    S. 2058 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would not affect the budgets of state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Jeff LaFave. The 
estimate was approved by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                           Regulatory Impact

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    S. 2058 as reported would not create any new programs or 
impose any new regulatory requirements, and therefore would not 
subject any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            economic impact

    Enactment of this legislation is not expected to have any 
inflationary or adverse impact on the Nation's economy.

                                privacy

    The bill would not impact the personal privacy of 
individuals.

                               paperwork

    S. 2058, as amended, would require a report and a plan from 
NOAA. The NOAA Administrator would provide to Congress a report 
on gaps in the coverage of the NEXRAD system and a plan on how 
to improve radar coverage. It would not increase paperwork for 
the private sector.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title.

    This section would provide the short title of the bill, the 
Metropolitan Weather Hazards Protection Act of 2015.

Section 2. Study on gaps in NEXRAD coverage and requirement for plan to 
        address such gaps.

    As introduced this section would have required the 
Secretary of Commerce to maintain and operate at least one 
Doppler weather radar site within 55 miles of each city in the 
United Sates that has a population of more than 700,000 
individuals. There are two locations that fit the criteria for 
additional radars. The model of radars NOAA currently uses is 
no longer manufactured and the agency was concerned that it 
would be very costly, and potentially impossible to complete 
the mandate. This section, as modified in Committee, would 
require the Secretary of Commerce to identify areas with gaps 
in radar coverage and develop a plan for addressing these gaps.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the 
bill as reported would make no change to existing law.