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October 05, 2021

Two U.S. Representatives introduced a bill that would upgrade and modernize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio All Hazards network. 

ABOUT NOAA WEATHER RADIO

The National Weather Service currently spends $16 million per year running the NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) Network's 1,033 transmitters in all 50 states and five U.S. Territories.

NOAA WEATHER RADIO MODERNIZATION ACT OF 2021

Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ) introduced the bill, H.R. 5324, on September 22, 2021. H.R. 5324 can be referred to as the "NOAA Weather Radio Modernization Act of 2021" or the "NWR Modernization Act of 2021."

This bill would allocate $20 million to upgrading existing systems and $40 million modernizing initiatives. 

In the section regarding upgrades to existing systems, the bill would require the Administrator of NOAA to expand the coverage of the NOAA Weather Radio and ensure its reliability. The bill states that in order to do so, NOAA must maintain support for existing systems covering areas without cell service, ensure consistent maintenance and repairs to broadcast towers and antennas, and enhance the ability to amplify non-weather emergency messages via NOAA Weather Radio. 

Under the modernizing initiatives, the NOAA Administrator should provide upgrades to NOAA Weather Radio to ensure its capabilities and coverage remain valuable. These modernizing initiatives include providing upgrades to the infrastructure to speed up the transition of broadcasts to Internet Protocol-based communications over non-copper media. Other initiatives include accelerating software updates to implement partial county notifications and develop options including satellite backup capability for NOAA Weather Radio continuity in the event of Weather Forecast Office outages.  

Midland Radio Meteorologist Bruce Jones says this bill is crucial to keeping Americans safe:

"NOAA Weather Radio is America’s official federal warning system, reaching 95% of the US population.  This radio-based alerting system saves lives and protects property, but it needs to be maintained, improved and expanded.  The “NOAA Weather Radio Modernization Act of 2021” offers a bi-partisan boost for this life-saving network.  I urge every American to contact their representatives in Washington and voice support for the “Voice of the National Weather Service.” The next life it saves could be yours," Jones said.

To read the full text of the bill go here. 

CONTACTING YOUR LAWMAKERS

If you're interested in contacting your representatives to encourage their support of this bill, you can find their phone number here. It is organized by state and district. 

If the bill proceeds to the Senate, you can contact your state senator by finding their phone number here

You can also go to congress.gov and on the right hand screen you can find "Contact Your Member" to enter your address if you aren't sure who your U.S. Representative or Senator is. 

 The bill is currently in the first stage. Typically, the bill is introduced and passed to a committee. This bill was referred to the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The committee will debate the bill, deciding if it will move to the House floor. The House would then vote on it. If it's passed in the House, it will move to the Senate. If the Senate passes the bill, it will head to the President to be signed into law. 


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