tv House Hearing on Weather Forecasting CSPAN November 3, 2021 1:19pm-4:20pm EDT
a front row seat to democracy. >> thursday, dr. anthony fauci and cdc director rochelle walensky testified to the senate health committee on the biden administration's covid-19 response. watch live at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span3, online at c-span.org, or watch full coverage on c-span now, our new video app. >> washington unfiltered. c-span, in your pocket. download c-span now today. >> next, a look at weather forecasting as a tool to prepare and defend against extreme weather. the house science space and technology committee heard from witnesses about weather mitigation, s.t.e.m. education, and improvements to the national weather service. the hearing is three hours. >> without objection, the chair
is authorized to declare recess at any time, and in my opening remarks, i wanted to note today the committee is meeting virtually. i want to announce a couple reminders to members about the conduct of this hearing. members keep their video feed on as long as they're present in the hearing. members are responsible for their own microphones. please also keep your microphones muted unless you are speaking. finally, if members have questions they would wish to submit to the record, please email them to the committee first, whose email address was circulated prior to the meeting. good morning and thank you to all of our witnesses for joining us here today. in april 2011, a tornado tore
through mississippi, alabama, and neighboring states. over 300 lives were lost. this was despite an average lead time of over 20 minutes before the tornado arrived. what went wrong? the way risk was communicated to communities and how they responded. these tragedies spurred the national weather service to begin implementing its plan to build a weather ready nation. the reason was to make communities ready, responsive, and resilient to such threats. over eight years later, october 2019, a tornado outbreak tore through the south central usa,
and it became the costliest tornado in texas history. however, unlike the tornadoes from 2011, there were no life-threatening injuries or deaths. the real difference was the ability of the weather service forecasters to communicate the risk so that communities could prepare. this is called impact space support service. just one of the many improvements that have been made at the national weather service over the past decade. the weather service has built important relationships with its core partners. these include emergency managers, academia, private
sector, state and local and tribal governments. these partners work hand in hand with weather service forecasters to provide the public with critical, actionable weather and climate information. developments in science and technology are propelling us into the future weather forecast, additionally the weather forecast service has improved. we owe much of this progress to -- doctor uccellini will be retiring at the national weather service at the end of this year. he has served our country for 43 years. for the past 32 years, he has been at the national weather service and for the past nine years, he has served as the
director. he has had an impressive career. whoever succeeds him as director will have very large shoes to fill. but decide the successes of the weather service, there's still work to be done. over the past decade, there have been numerous issues. each report has improvements and issues of recommendation. we'll discuss some of the recent accountability reports of the weather service again. i commend the weather service for its willingness to address the findings of these reports and continuously work to improve. findings are the beating heart of the weather service. however, over the past decade,
there's been a high vacancy rate, especially among meteorologists. this has led to stress and reduced morale. the weather service has taken steps to address workforce issues, but more work must be done. i cannot emphasize enough that the committee would like to see -- today, we'll discuss projects at the weather service and where there's still room for growth. we'll expand on how to best position the weather service to provide robust service across the country and what additional resources the weather service may need to insure that we're truly weather ready nation. i hope today's hearing will
determine that, and i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. the chair now recognizes our distinguished ranking member of the committee. >> thank you, chair woman johnson for holding today's hearing. thank you to all of our witnesses for offering your insight into our nation's weather forecasting future. as you know, improving our forecasting abilities and making our forecast even more useful has been a high priority for me. i appreciate dr. uccellini for better serving the public. you produce critical information. around this time of year in oklahoma, the forecast alerts farmers and ranchers to the first frost of the season,
helping us plan for weeks ahead. towns and cities rely on forecasts to plan for inclement weather, and forecasts issued pie local weather offices provide life-saving information in the event of severe weather. in recent years, nws has focused on efforts to become a weather ready nation. this was primarily done by implementing impact based decision support services where the national weather forecast offices provide forecast advice to local officials before and during a weather related emergency. these efforts have improved communication with the public, helping families better understand the effects a weather event can have on them personally. dr. uccellini and the national weather service have also focused on implementation of the national blend of model. a method which improved the speed and accuracy at which meteorologists can issue alerts. by bringing together both the nws and non-nws american weather
prediction data and accurate consistent model to be a starting point for forecasters across the nation. but despite the many successes of the national weather service, no government office is perfect. and challenges always remain. at the forefront of my mind is how the nws is more efficiently utilize and engage in commercial data mining to improve our national weather model. as made evident by the blended model, a u.s. weather model cannot achieve their full capacity without the support of private weather enterprise. another challenge we're facing is inspiring and training the next generation of s.t.e.m. and meteorologist students, improving our model data won't help us if there are no professionals to utilize this in the next decade. that's why i'm pleased to welcome pl erik salna, associate director of education outreach
for the international hurricane research center at florida international university to the witness panel. as a weather ready nation ambassador, and someone who works closely with university students, he can offer a unique perspective on weather forecasting, especially when it comes to engaging the community and the next generation. before i close, i want to thank dr. uccellini for his decades of service to the federal government. after a 43-year career in public service, he'll be retiring at the end of the new year, at the start of the new year, i should say. this change in leadership makes now an opportune time to reflect on the progress we made and what challenges the national weather service should tackle next. i hope to use today's hearing to learn from all of our expert witnesses on what the next challenges might be. with that, madam chair, i yield back. >> thank you, mr. lucas.
if there are members who wish to submit additional opening statements, your statement will be added to the record at this point. at this time, i would like to introduce our witnesses. first, dr. uccellini. dr. uccellini is the national oceanic administrative assistant, administrator for weather service and director of the national weather service. he is responsible for the day-to-day civilian weather operations in the united states, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas. prior to this position, he served as director of national centers for the environmental condition. for 14 years, he was responsible for directing and planning the
technology and operations related to this for nine centers. he was the director of national weather service's office of meteorology from 1994 to 1999. and section head of the modeling section for atmospheric from 1978 to 1989. our next witness is mr. cardell johnson. he's the acting director of dao's natural resources and environmental team. he oversees work on the federal government's management of public lands and waters including national parks and
forests. coastal and marine resources, endangered species, water supply, and national services program. prior to joining, mr. johnson served as the director at usaid's office of inspector general, where he developed his framework. he also worked at pta as a budget analyst and worked on improvement. our third witness, mr. john warner. mr. westerner is president of the national weather service, as well as a lead forecaster of the weather forecast office, wfo, in mobile, alabama. he has served under all national
presidents, and addition to the lead forecaster for wfo mobile, he also managed the office of hydrology program and other program areas including radar, rain, and aviation. prior to joining nws, mr. werner served 24 years as a meteorologist in the united states air force where he had predictions including the following. chief of weather station operations, air force special operations command, directorate of weather area space scientists, and chief environmental simulation at the air force. our final witness is -- is
mr. gimenez here? would you like to introduce him? >> thank you so much. i really appreciate it. thank you, madam chair. i want to extend my warmest welcome to mr. erik salna, the associate director of education and outreach for the extreme events institute at the international hurricane research center at florida international university. in miami. fiu is a top tier of research university located in my district in miami, and it has over 237 million dollars in annual research activity. mr. salna personally has over 25 years experience as a broadcast meteorologist, providing live continuous coverage of hurricanes, tornadoes, and flooding. at fiu, he has focused on education and outreach that helps reduce the impact of natural hazardous events. i visited and have seen
first-hand their impressive research on storm surge, economic loss modeling, and wind engineering. their wall of wind is one of the two nsf supported facilities dedicated to wind research. mr. salna is also a full member of the american meteorological society, and he has a bs in physical geography with an emphasis in meteorology from the university of illinois. i look forward to hearing from mr. salna and how fiu can assist federal agencies improve weather forecasting in not only the near future but also in the future for our children and our grandchildren. thank you, madam chair. i yield back. >> thank you very much. now, as our witnesses should know, you will have five minutes for your spoken testimony. your written testimony will be included in the record of the
hearing. your spoken testimony you will have five minutes for questions. we'll start with mr. uccellini. >> thank you, chairwoman johnson. and ranking member lucas and members of this committee. it is my honor to testify before you today on the current status and the opportunities for the national weather service. to say i have seen significant change at the weather service would be an understatement. i entered the national weather service meteorological operations in 1989. at that time, the weather map was still used at the operational center. at the center i came into, there was no digital capability. fast forward to today. we operate in a completely digital environment, accessing data from the entire weather enterprise, and providing advanced prediction guidance on the seamless suite of model systems ranging from short range
forecasts to seasonal predictions covering the domain from the sun to the sea. the national weather service saves through the provisions of weather, water, and climate services. a mission statement that includes analysis, forecast warning, and now impact based decision support services delivered by our forecasters from guam, the southwest pacific island states, to the middle atlantic ocean. and from alaska to the caribbean. that's about a third of the northern hemisphere. we have made remarkable progress in prith predicting extreme water and weather events. if we learn from the 2011 weather event, we need to go beyond forecasted warning.
together, we created the portfolio to align with executing the field forecast process, accelerating science and technology advancements in the national weather service from the larger research community and the private sector and addressing our critical facility needs. the entire budget process was designed to support and advance our people in the field in order to meet our mission. we also worked hard to streamline the hiring process and increase our staffing levels to a point now we haven't seen since 2015, with an increase of nearly 150 staff since 2017. we have also placed a renewed emphasis for our work force to
better reflect the communities we serve. our research and modeling has kept pace, and in some cases led the rest of the world, but we have a long way to go. our push forward with a unified forecast system is well on its way. we have created the earth prediction image center, to accelerate that process, that resource to operation process, and we have also been improving our discrimination system and developing a national weather model as a first step in the forecast process that will help the forecasters get the gridded products out faster and unlock time directed. so on the eve of my retirement, i can say that i'm leaving the weather service in a better place than i found it. i have briefed you on many issues over the years and i have watched as your confidence in our center has returned and
deepened. your support of the national weather service is invaluable, and we will need that support even more now as we move into the future marked by more extreme events fueled by the changing warmer climate, such as the record recent rainfalls, flooding, extended and flash droughts, wildfires, extreme heat, extreme cold, and of course, the destructive hurricanes making landfall along the gulf and atlantic coast and the severe weather outbreaks that have devastated rural and suburban communities. all of which points to the increasing importance of the impact support services which we have now just recently added to the national weather service mission statement. serving our nation and leading the federal government's finest, most dedicated workforce has been my privilege and profound honor. i will be watching the national weather service with respect, pride, and gratitude for everything the most dedicated employees in the federal government bring to their jobs
every day and with a big thank you for what you do to empower them. thank you. >> thank you very much. now, mr. johnson. >> chairwoman johnson, ranking member lucas, and members of the committee, good morning. thank you for the opportunity to discuss our work on the national weather service's reform efforts and staffing challenges. the national weather service has substantially followed many leading practices for effective performing these efforts with additional actions and continued attention. my statement today discusses opportunities for the agency to enhance leadership focus and attention and to better involve employees and stakeholders in reform efforts.
i'll also discuss long-standing human capital challenges that may hinder the agency's perform effort. the first opportunity for improvement is enhancing leadership focus and attention. the national weather service stood up a program management office to oversee the implementation of the agency reform. however, the agency's approach to staffing the office has not provided it with the capacity to effectively implement the reforms. key leadership and staff positions are rotational or part-time. and five years, seven officials rotated through the director role. also, some staff found it difficult to balance work loads from competing priorities. this rotational and part-time staffing model resulted in disruption to projects and increased risk of reforms. according to one senior
official, these reforms are one of the most important things the national weather service is doing if no one is inclined to do it, so we recommended the agency revise the approach to staffing the management office to improve leadership in continuity and capacity for its reform efforts. the second opportunity to improve reform in rotation is better involving employees as stakeholders in the process. the concern here is that some staff did not feel that the agency was being transparent about the reform, and there are also concerns that the agency did not sufficiently communicate with staff in the field about the reform efforts, and there are concerns these reforms could lead to office closures and job losses. our previous work found that failures to adequately address issues related to people and
culture can lead to reforms being unsuccessful. therefore, we're recommending that the national weather service develop a two-way communication strategy that outlines how the agency will listen and respond to employees' concerns about the reform efforts. in addition to implementing these opportunities for improvement, the national weather service will need to address its human capital challenges. vacancies in hiring are long-standing issues that could affect the agency's capacity to implement these reforms. in 2017, we found that vacancies in the hiring process led managers and staff to take on additional responsibilities, work additional forecasting shifts, adjust or cancel leave plans, and as a result of this, officials indicated that managers and staff experienced stress and reduced morale, all
of which may impact successful reform. in conclusion, we do recognize that the national weather service has taken steps to reform its operations and workforce. further addressing leadership and staff continuity, capacity, and broader staffing challenges as well as effectively engaging employees and key stakeholders, which strengthens the agency's reform efforts, and by doing so, moving the agency closer to achieving its vision of creating that weather ready nation that is responsive and resilient to extreme weather events. chairwoman johnson, ranking member lucas, this concludes my or statement and i'm happy to respond to questions. thank you.
>> you're still muted, mrs. johnson. >> so sorry, i was wondering why i got no response. thank you very much, mr. johnson. we'll go now to mr. werner. >> good morning. thank you, chairwoman johnson, ranking member lucas, and committee members. as you know, the national weather service represents 3300 employees at over 160 national weather service offices nationwide. these are the folks responsible for the preparation and delivery of forecasts, warnings, and impact based decisions to stabilize and protect properties and enhance the national economy. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. all year long. now, despite an ever expanding mission, the national weather service has close to 500 fewer employees than it did five years
ago. most are classified as emergency officials. this has led to serious consequences. service assessment conducted by the weather service following 13 major storms that occurred between 2008 to 2018 found the ability of the national weather service to protect lives during these events was compromised with already inadequate staffing at weather forecast services or forecast centers. now, according to a 2015 study, conducted by mckinsey and company, most forecast offices exceed the available meteorologist work force, and in may of 2019 -- or may of 2017, the gao released a study requested by members of this committee that revealed the operational units have reached a point where employees are unable at times to perform key tasks. they further found staff experience reduced morale resulting from efforts to cover for vacancies due to lack of time off and loss of training. according to the gao, the
national weather service managers admit that employees are demoralized because they had to cover the workload for multiple agencies. since the gao study was conducted, understaffing has not improved. the chart we displayed showed the number of nonmanagerial capacity in years according to the data that the national weather service routinely provides to us related to july of this year, we did receive updated numbers yesterday after we had submitted the graph, as of september 25th, there has been a slight increase from the numbers we had been provided. now, the national weather service employees organization has from the outset pushed for and supported the concept of impact based support services. going forward, we just need to approach resources. adequate staffing is critical to growing demand for our key
partners in the management community at all levels of government. one initiative reported by management to free up more forecaster time is the use of the national blended model. we are unsure how much processg time this may save, if any. we believe the challenge of using the starting point is making sure the forecast is not delayed by the loss of experienced forecasters. as widely reported in the media, national weather service dissemination and information structure has proven to be unreliable. we are encouraged to see that the hospital appropriations committee recommended a funding increase of close to $37 million in the fy budget for dissemination. infrastructure is a must. another factor is the unequal distribution of forecasters and
employees. and employees departing from the national weather service due to the lack of mobility. both of these are a result of the implementation of 2019 meteorologist career progression. the focus has been placed on just filling vacancies with new hire and not enough on maintaining the meteorologists staff who have had a large turnover during the past couple of years. and when we try to retain current employees, many of are frustrated wanting to more locations and many are considering careers outside of the national weather service. but in closing, i would like to thank the committee for support of the employees at national weather services, aside from our significant resource and process challenges, i truly believe that the national weather service along with the rest of noaa is a fantastic organization with an unparalleled mission, supported by employees who are dedicated
and passion are second to none. >> thank you very much. and our final witness is mr. sandler. >> thank you, madam chair and ranking member congressman jimenez and members of the committee. it is an honor to be with you today representing international universities, we are excited to share our insights into the weather and investments from the state of florida and federal partners including noaa and the national foundation have advanced our research at fiu and we have designated the wall of wind that is a category five hurricane is one of the nation's eight major facilities under the natural hazard engineering research and programs. we are privileged to have the national hurricane center and the national weather service
miami office honored here in miami. our international hurricane research center or ihrc, are the ferst ambassador in south florida in 2004. there is a free snapshot how they have made an impact in south florida. weather ready nations are noaa's boots on the ground. with mitigation in the community through national noaa weather service partnerships. this includes high visibility public education events like the eye of the storm, and successful businesses that discover in science in fort lauderdale and at the hurricane website, fiu.edu, would speak to the changing dem or graphic and partnering with the national hurricane center, on the hurricane awareness tool. in our k through 12 program,
they are our youngest and next generation of weather right field basts. including a pursuit for degree by challenging to develop innovative and mitigation concepts which are then tested. now many [ inaudible ] like fiu are weather ready nation ambassadors an we literally take our science to the people. at fiu, our research has a purpose. either we reduce risk or risk will reduce us. through nhc through the testing, the model is helping with forecasts and we're collaborating to develop a coastal forecast system in the caribbean region. we are work with the research division and environmental modeling center are improving forecast models specifically
rapid intensification. and long side usaid, we're focused on latin america and the caribbean. fuelling the weather ready nation is a team effort. fiu success as a weather ready nation ambassador comes from a multi-partner approach to work together with noaa and the national weather service. and as we move forward, there are some thoughts on how we could work with congress and noaa to strengthen the future weather ready nation. continue to collaboration in investment and enhance weather forecasting research including hurricane tracking and intensity to improve warning, storm modeling research, to improve public evacuations and social science research to improve the linkage between national weather service products and public understanding, the best forecast in the world is useless if the public doesn't respond or hasn't taken the needed action to protect themselves.
also, the workforce. at fiu, be believe our demography is that of the country. noaa has a great opportunity to collaborate with a university partner in particular urban public minority institutions like fiu to recruit a highly skilled and diverse workforce. communicating weather readiness for more audiences, noaa and its ambassadors must reach a broader more diverse audience. the fiu spanish language website is one example. in vulnerable populations, embrace weather ready nations for all by addressing multiple populations needs and resources. at the end of the day, it is all about people, family, and livelihood. thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. >> and thank you so very much.
at this time, i would like to ask unanimous con sent to submit a letter for the record from the president of the international association of managers and the support of national weather service and the weather service, without objection so ordered. first questions will begin and i'll recognize myself for five minutes. mr. mus, what concrete steps has the national weather is taken to address gender and diversity? >> well, we've certainly have renewed our focus on the issues not only from a weather service perspective, but from a noaa
perspective. and we're actually showing success in that regard in the number of women and minorities that we are bringing into the national weather service. and we're actually not happy in the sense that the -- we always strive to do better in these areas. so i think it is important to focus on what we're doing now to improve and to retain. this is also another important issue for both women in the national weather service and minorities, we're seeing retention rates that are frankly in the minority area that are not acceptable. so we're working on those issues as well. >> well, thank you. why is having a dynamic and diverse workforce critical for advance in weather forecast?
>> well, we certainly have the notion that we need to look like the communities that we serve. and the nation itself is becoming more diverse, i think everybody recognizes that. important to us, we have large segments of the united states in which spanish might be a primary language. so we have to deal with those issues. we have our urban environment that are particularly vulnerable to heat as an example and pollution. we need to better focus on that and work with the communities that suffer from that. having stated that, we've shown a lot of success in areas over the past 20, 25 years in working with indigenous people and native alaska community and the tribal nations and the southwest
pacific island states. we believe we have a foundation to work from to address the issues as they are emerging today. >> well, thank you, any witness would like to comment? okay. the national weather service admits to a series of reforms in 2017, building a weather presence through the main goal to free up staff time and improve service to parties. these incidents are very if favor of completion. the 2021 gao report [ inaudible ], mr. johnson, do you think that is most important steps the weather service needs
to take to implement these reforms? >> well thank you for that question. so, we've had successful reform is rooted in having leadership and staff continuity and capacity as well as effective communication. so the most important steps that the national weather service can take is to provide that leadership and staff continuity and capacity to the appropriate management office that oversees the implementation of these reforms. that continuity and capacity is going to ensure that the organization has the tools, skills and resources to see these reforms through and that is the same time the national weather service needs to engage in stakeholders, that will help
employees and stakeholders understand the nature of the changes, gain their buy in in ownership of this. so, yes, an important step is having that continuity and capacity and effective communication. >> okay. many of the well services staff and hiring and operation issues from the gao report are long standing. what do you think has been hindering the weather service and making more progress? >> well, to be fair, you know, these reforms and the agency reforms are pretty difficult and hard to do. and it is just going to take some time. but with that said, there are two issues. staffing and transparency with respect to staffing, the national weather service has long standing chal everyones with workforce capacity and continuity. our work is identified of those increasing vacancy rates, hiring
process challenges with staff balancing work load. so we have the need for the weather service to complete a workforce analyst to address those and national weather service has recognized this and they have it on their plan to do. and again, i would go back to with respect to transparency, the need for that effective with stakeholders so what we've heard is that the national weather service has taken steps to confirm our information, i do want to be clear about that, but the staff that we've talked to, because they're receiving emails or posting information to the internet page, it is just not really efficient for the massive amount of changes taking place and their concerned about the potential impacts. so we would recommend to address that transparency and they develop a two way communication
strategy that will outline how they will listen and respond. so those two things, the transparency and the staffing if they address those, we believe they'll be able to move forward. >> thank you very much. my time is expired. i'm recognize the ranking member. >> thank you, madam chair. doctor, it has been a pleasure having you testify before this thcommittee and you and i worked together on the best policies to improve weather forecasting for a better part of a decade. so i want to take a wide angle and kind of look backwards before looking forward. and you could be as specific as you'd like. but my question is, what has the weather after 2017 meant to the weather community? >> i think the weather act has been the most important
legislation and an indication of support from this government in my entire career both community which spans 50 years, we embrace the weather act and all five titles, all five segments of it, to move not only the weather service forward, but the larger enterprise forward including the other components of noaa, the research satellite components especially, it is just been an enormous foundational basis for moving forward since it came out in april of 2003 but it was 2017. it has just been tremendous. one of the examples is the recognition that a job doesn't end with the forecast warning. and authorized us to provide the
impact support services over all government levels. we've embraced that and to the point and i would say our workforce has embraced it and we've been very transparent with our workforce to note that i have visited more than 120 offices and others within the weather service of our write up next to those numbers as well, engaging with the workforce for hours both in the office and over dinner which goes on for hours because they are trying to be transparent here. and this idea sets us in a critical reform in going beyond the forecasting warning and engaging these decision makers and i believe we need to continue on that track. so, in the weather act research, the commercial aspects an the private sector and the tsunami and seasonal and unseasonal, all of above, it is been a tremendous boost for us moving
forward. >> thank you, doctor, and i appreciate those comments because we leave in a cynical time, both in congress and in the general public. but the fact is we do good work and this committee did good work in 2017. i appreciate your acknowledgment. now that said, looking from this point forward, what is your observations about what is missing from the weather act and what is still needed to maximize our forecasting ability and look forward now? >> well, we're living in a time when the -- we could see it. we can visualize that the impact of these systems, the intensity of these weather systems are increasing. we're seeing it in the fire aspect, which we don't have fire seasons any more, we have fire years. they burn hotter and they move faster. the extreme heat, extreme cold.
the flooding, the rain fall rates. we're seeing rainfall rates and what we call extra topical attitudes where the united states sits itself, we're seeing rainfall rates that have not been observed before. the last flood in new york city that flooded subways is the first time i've found that they've been flooded from rainfall. they've been flooding from surges across the ocean. so we're living in times when the demand for what we do is going to grow and it is going to be essential for people to respond to these types of events. this is a research issue. the research community has to be involved. it's an operational issue, with respect to the technology and science we have to bring into our operations to address these types of systems that have not been observed before and then we have the social science issue
that connects our forecast and warnings to decision-making and accounts for the risk factor. i mean, we're con fronted with how do you communicate these impacts on something that people haven't observed before. okay. that is a big task to get people to respond and that is not only on us, it is on this public safety officials and every government level that have to work these issues. >> doctor, i'll simply conclude by saying thank you for your decades an decades of public service. there are good people in all branches of federal government and you're a classic example. with that, i yield back, madam chair. >> thank you very much. we will now move to the staff to recognize members. >> thank you very much, sir johnson and ranking member and thank you to our witnesses and as someone who spent a lot of time working on the research
resurging forecast innovation act of 2017 with mr. lucas and others, i appreciate your question and i also appreciate your response about mr. mus you'lliny. in 2018 did join my committee colleagues in requesting a study from the gao regarding the national weather service to modernize under the evolve program. in the most recent study published in response to our request, the gao found that the national weather service has appeared to process for effectively reforms, but has not adequately implemented several recommendations including a strategy that listens and responded to employee concerns about the programs. so according to the study, nws officials planned on finalizing the strategy by the end of fiscal year 2021 which ended a few weeks ago. so mr. warner, will you explain in detail how the lack of a clear two-way communication
strategy is affecting members of the national weather service and what improvements you would like to see and the benefits of a more effective strategy. >> thank you, congresswoman. there is a lot to unpack in that. i think we've communicated some over the past year but there has been a lablg of transparency and if do you something atn a vaccine at the top level a mile high and then you come down with a great idea, maybe it doesn't translate well into the field. i think it is benefit to get the synergy and let's integrate from field offices to the regional level and the national level. so everybody is kind of on the same page. but what is the best way to implement this to actually work. we talked about the mdm being a time saver, while we have a
region model for ten years in the extended forecast and another one for five years. these haven't been tried at grassroots level and to improve time. so communication and transparency is absolutely important. and i think everyone knows if you don't-if the information is not flowing, then the rumors start and the conspiracies start. you could have a open dialogue and be transparent. what do we want to do and let employees decide how they want to do that. let them be involved. >> i appreciate that, thank you so much. and look forward ton further information about how changes will be implemented. in the past three decades we know that the united states has sustain more than 300 weather disasters costing the nation more than $2 trillion and climate change has increased the severity and frequency of the extreme weather events. in the pacific northwest, my home in oregon, we have
record-breaking heat waves that effected hundreds of people, including in hi own state and forecasts are more important than ever and the technological improvements that have increased the warnings there is still a liability issue. is no march of this year the network crafted an impeded public access to the life saving services as well at the nws function [ inaudible ]. so last year noaa released the strategy which outlines the administration's goal for accelerating service integration. so will you please explain the progress and the time line for the weather service data into a commercial platform and elaborate on the extent to which the information systems upgrids will prevent future outages and failures. >> okay. so first of all, i want to thank the hill for providing extra
resources in the fiscal year '21, $1.5 million in our dissemination efforts. we're finally able to get plans through the system and up to the hill, that we've been developing over the last several years and that does include a cloud smart approach as to how we are advancing capabilities. with respect to i think you perhaps are referring to the dissemination program which involves the chat, the ability to chat. not only within the weather service, but with our partners outside is a very critical function and with the resources we've -- we're not dealing with the legacy system developed many years ago, which was not transportable into the new technology. so we used the resources to
transition that and we're about a month away from the ability to run the chat on the new system. but we're also in parallel, and this gets you to the cloud, we're working with the -- to a competitive process to have a slack demo now is ongoing which is cloud based and we have about another -- we just saw it with the demo will go another several weeks and then make decisions from that assessment. we take a very, as i think cordele johnson was pointing to, we take a systematic approach to any changes in our operational systems with our users fully engaged as we're doing with this demo, including the emergency management community and especially the emergency management community.
but that is other a community. so that is an example. we're also transitioning functions that have been on dissemination platform that perhaps can be moved on to other platforms and our first effort in that involved the multi-spectrum development efforts. and they showed success in that and we're now considering other functions as well. as the resources are made available. these transitions of operational systems does take resources and we take a very careful approach with this. so those are -- >> my time is expire -- my time is expired but as i yield back i want to thank you so much for your years of service we've had an illustrious career and we appreciate your car and wish you the very best. and i yield back, madam chair. >> thank you. >> mr. posey recognized.
>> thank you, and thank you chairwoman johnson for holding this hearing and thank you for your years of dedicated service. wonderful service. as it stands now, ocean science are the defact or leaders for forecasts, they've developed the monitoring system for locating monitoring and quantifying the algae booms in coastal and lake regions across the country. my question is what role that national weather service plays in harmful algae forecasting [ inaudible question ]. >> so one of the things that we do is we partner with the national ocean service that actually runs the forecast model for the base, the coastal areas
and the harmful algae bloom. we work with them in terms of providing the computer capacity for example of one of those models is looked at as a weather operational model and the reason is that they need weather parameters from our own models to actually drive components of their prediction system. after the forecasts are made, we have positioned the relevant forecast offices and this has been, you know, especially in the local offices embraced by the workforce in those offices to serve as a service outlet in a sense and work very, very diligently with the partners. and with the people receiving the information that makes decisions like along the gulf coast in florida and also in
lake erie. so there are quote/unquote operational systems that we work with our partners and deliver those forecasts and work with the decision-makers accordingly. >> well, thank you. can you think of the next weather service abilities to do for forecasting -- >> well the science and the abilities actually lie in the national ocean service and in the ocean antic and atmospheric group and the great lakes environmental research lab. we worked with them developing the new advances and i could say that we learned from them. it is a learning experience that -- for me and recognizing that the harmful algae bloom in freshwater like lake erie could
be more toxic than what happen as long the coast. i know in florida you have that combination of lake okeechobee water and come together and providing these blooms over a two, three-month period. so but from a science perspective, we rely on other components from a service perspective, we are working with them to make sure that we could get the connectivity with the local decision-makers that need it information, whether it is the water, whether it is the fish, the shell fish, whatever. so it is really a true partnership within noaa that is bringing this expertise and ability to the service pipeline and into the community. >> how important is it to understand coupled ocean atmosphere interactions for weather forecasting? >> oh, it is one of the main factors that we have to work towards to improve ourselves in
the future. it is not just the atmosphere for us, it is the entire earth system. the system of science and the ocean atmospheric coupling is a incredible component of that. my colleagues, my leader in oer, mcclain, handed a bumper sticker, said if you like your seven-day forecast, thank an ocean ographer. i've had that in my office now, i would say 82 weeks. in the world meteorologist organization for the effort to bring the ocean and atmospheric community together as organizations to address these issues into the future. so it is not just just a truly global issue. we have to bring a coupled approach and the entire earth system forward to advance our forecast capabilities.
>> thank you very much. i see my time has expired and i yield back. thank you. >> mr. bear is recognized. >> thank you, and want to thank the ranking member and chairman for having this hearing. in my home state of california and my home district in northern california, the sacramento region, we've been dealing with devastating wildfires as the whole west coast and western united states has. and unfortunately it is becoming the norm. maybe this is a question for doctor, one of the positive -- the high winds coming through northern california which is leading to electricity shutoff decisions, et cetera, you could talk a little bit about how noaa and the national weather service, the role they play in the shutoff decisions which do
effect large swaths of northern california and what research we might be able to support to provide better decision making. >> well, we do provide our forecast, we make it available to all, all components of the commercial sector and of course the public safety officials, government officials that have to make tough decisions. and you know as i forecast information directly from the model, our forecast information directly from the national blended model, and the forecast that come from the local offices, which are all consistent and they all get more of a approach to the community. many of the, if not all, of the utilities companies either have their internal meteorological groups or they have private sector firms that provide
information and those private sector firms that we work in partnership with also to ensure consistency in what we're putting forward. so, with respect to the decision process, that the utilities make, they have the information stream to them and one of the things that i could say as a enterprise, as a community, we're able to make these forecasts for extreme events and extreme wind events with a greater level of accuracy and certainty up to a week in advance. so i could imagine that there a tremendous lead time and risk assessment that is going on inside those utility companies to make those decisions. but we're not part of that decision process. we're providing the information into it. and they tailor it and make those decisions. but i would say as an entity,
the lead time and accuracy for the forecasts is pretty remarkable. >> great. and maybe for any of the witnesses, also my home district obviously sacramento historically has been a very flood prone region and you won't know it today if you went to the folsom lake which is a big reservoir. we're living through a drought. from a preticket dif model, how far in advance could be -- this might be for the doctor, how far in advance could we predict what the weather season means coming up is going to be like and how do we integrate that with what is global data. >> well, what we've seen in our discussions with the national academy of science, from june of
2020, and other engagements with the scientific community, we have an operational challenge when you get into the skaend extended time period, we have a predictable challenge and in that there is a level of predictability that rapidly declines even as you get into two weeks and beyond. so with precipitation, that is a factor of atmosphere that really loses predict ability fairly quickly. and one of the big chal everyones that we all face, from the research or the operational community, is how engage whatever predictability there is in the signals that we have, whether it is directly from the models or from cracking these large scale patterns like
oscillation or the enso pattern in the pacific and the el nino and nina patterns, we could use those and bring past experiences to those, but from a hard core predictive approach, we realize there is a lot of uncertainty involved in using that information. so, but the users demand it. i mean, society is trying to make decisions based exactly on what is happening in your state and your water supply. so we're bringing the information as best we can with the level of uncertainty involved clearly stated to those users to make the difficult -- >> i see my time is expired so i'll get back. thank you again for your service, doctor. >> mr. webber is recognized. >> thank you, i appreciate that.
doctor, you heard it already said, to you and your leadership that many, many companies and organizations have signed up to serve as ambassadors in support of having a weather-ready nation. so, suffice it to say, your expertise and leadership created and helped coin the term weather ready nation, end quote, because we're in texas where we have the biggest weather phenomenon there is. sometimes we get fooled. but you understood that nonetheless this was an opportunity program for increased engagement and partnerships with the private sector weather forecast companies with members of america's climb and they wholeheartedly supported the weather ready nation program. doctor, if you could take this time to speak to the partnership between -- and the private
sector weather forecasters and how they work closely with the national weather service towards building in a weather ready nation. you could speak to that, please, sir. >> yes, i'd be glad to. we recognize that assessing the public safety for the weather service to address the public safety mission, and you've heard comments that are now from the gao and from -- we don't have the resources to even optimally deal with all of the issues there. so, you'll see private sector firms that even work -- that are now working through the chat function collaborate actually or pass through our warning at times now that they didn't even five years ago. because we all are recognizing the need to work together for consistent messaging and private
sector will take that and tailor it to specific customers, of course the wide berth of aches, agriculture, energy, water supply, et cetera. so i just -- or transportation. i just think that that partnership was essential. we can't -- we cannot do this alone. when we designed a weather ready nation as a strategic goal, and brought a vision on how to get to that goal, the first thing we heard back from the national academy of public administration when they reviewed it, based on test.c test. test. test.w3 academic community and we're getting into social science to be able to communicate risk. all of the above. so this is -- the success of this program is in tent on our
partnerships. and if i might add, i could tell you from a global perspective, the private/public partnerships in the united states is looked on as the goal standard of the world. other parts of the world are wondering how we do it quite frankly. so i'll just say that one of the other reasons that i em base it because we can't do it alone. one or the other, i westchester -- i watched students come out and get jobs and it is really delightful to see that. thank you. >> yes, well thank you for that. you're to be commended for your service and we're taking applications for retirys here in texas. >> i'll think about that. >> thank you and i yield back. >> great,est. test. test. test. test. frpz test.fá
test. frpz test. @ba[ test. test.xd test. test. test. test.8ci]d:w been hit with stor after storm after storm for the balance of months, oftentimes without any ability to have warnings, thunderstorms that turn into tornados, thunderstorms that turn into super-cells, basements that have been flooded, disaster declarations, small businesses that were just getting to reopen and had to close again. unbelievable power outages, and certainly very pertinent as we're on the heels of just getting ready to pass some incredible infrastructure and sustainability legislation. but relevant to today's hearing,
is this ability to predict. and certainly i want to put the onus on all of you. how could we better predict the super-cell storm and rapid high winds that just pass over, the big beautiful trees in the city of farmington and lincoln hills, neighboring telling me we didn't even get a warning. but more so i want to ask and maybe this is a question for mr. soma as well as mr. cordele johnson, given that you are getting at this, are there tools in technology that will enable us to better predict? is there training we should be putting in place at the county or the local level in particular when certainly i've been hearing
the doctor talk about some of these challenges with the national weather service. but i just want to take it a step further and hear from you at the university level and certainly mr. cornell -- mr. johnson, from your gao studies, is there the opportunity to better predict? >> and if would you like to start, that would be great. >> thank you very much. well, there is a couple of ways that we could look at that. one thing that is used within the research community, with noaa and universities with a great collaboration and we've had here at fiu where we collaborate with noaa and the national hurricane center to overcome, and other grant programs, to overcome certain
restrictions but that collaboration of the academic government agencies have been very successful and it also connects in with the national science foundation and the national hazard of international research with our wall of wind. as we like to say, we don't want silos. we want collaboration and to bring people together. so when you have an open storm solution for research and from all across the country, for example coming to the wall of wind, where we could test not only for hurricane-force winds, but we can test for lower speed wind events like things of that nature. >> yes. >> so i think that is one way to look at it. because that all leads to improvement in the model and we've talked about the weather forecast being model. so continuing our efforts and support in those environments to make advances in the model.
>> thank you for that question. so since 2017 until now on this, the work we've done had focused on looking at different technologies for prediction but more of the how do we manage how that national weather service is managing reform efforts. but one thing that i could say from that, i think that is where the weather service could focus on the national blend of models, and in having a good common point for developing forecasts that could be able to predict information and get that out. it will impact the decisions to support services to community to have that lead time. so we know that they're doing work to refine that. there have been some concerns about the accuracy of it in
terms of working with certain terrain or weather conditions. but the weather service is aware of those. they're engaging in employees on the the technical aspects and making those refinements and hopefully that may help with the prediction. thank you. >> thank you so much. and i yield back. >> mr. babbin is recognized. >> yes, thank you very much. and thank you madam chairwoman and ranking member and also want to thank the witnesses today, they are very interesting. i have the honor of representing southeast texas. from houston over basically to louisiana. which unfortunately has been the center of devastating 500-year floods, that seem to come almost yearly now. and four years ago hurricane harvey dumped a single largest amount of rainfall in recorded
history in our country. in fact, north america in mind and also in randy weber's district which is right next door, and since then we've had several hurricanes, tropical storms, leaving most of southeast texas under water, et cetera. and this starts recurring devastation up ends the lives of thousands of people but have enormous implications on our federal budget. it leaves taxpayers with bills needed for recovery and investing in money in mitigation efforts seems to be a wise investment that could save billions of dollars every year in damages. so, mr. stal, i would ask you, since hurricane harvey, theres is a effort to promote resilience in order to help communities be better prepared for extreme weather events, fiu
extreme events institute is at the forefront of reducing the impact of natural hazards for research an the advancement of technology that strengthens response and posted recovery and mitigated exposure to risk could you ex pound, a short answer, if you don't mind, upon the importance of mitigation efforts and how the model that you're working on in florida could be translated to different areas such as east texas, southeast texas. >> thank you. >> yes, sir. >> so, that is the key word, right. and how could we all be more resilient. and another word is mitigation. and as we've turned to that formula, for every $1 in mitigation, there is $6 in damage and clean-up. so it makes fiscal sense to do what we can on the front end to build stronger and better.
so, we've tested infrastructure, that is related to building codes, where they are due for building codes across the country and other regions of the country especially hurricane prone states and you have this model that florida public hurricane model with state of florida and the office of regulation. if that is a model, now you could predict that the damage cost would be following a storm. so that is a tool. and that is in their sight and then shows you that if you do this kind of mitigation, you look at the savings that you're going to make. so, this is how we have to -- we can't do things like we've done in the past how we build and because our exposure has increased across the coastline, and in southeast texas, that is
their building of people in harm's way so we need to get them to texas and we need to get them prepared and so vulnerability, that is the key to look at. how is the infrastructure strengthening the building codes and safety and getting together with emergency management is one of those key members. >> great. thank you. thank you very much. secondly, serving as ranking member of the space and aeronautics, i've interested in the communication between nasa and noaa and the research to operations. and so doctor, as the director of the national weather service, you're well aware that the nws is a very tip of the spear for operational weather forecasting. and you're recently announced -- you recently announced your retirement after a decade for service and i want to thank you for that.
you've done an excellent job and made this country i think a lot more secure and confident with the approaching storms that we have. but you recently, after your announcement, is there anything that you think should have -- that you could have done better to enable that research to operations transition. that we're unable to do for one reason or another, just out of curiosity if you would like to elaborate on that, would you appreciate it. >> yeah, actually you're looking at someone who read the operation, and i worked in nasa for 11 years. established a research career and then came over to the operational world to learn about the other half of the equation. a lot of the things that i did with my leaders that i left at nasa space flight center is we established a center for satellite information and that is very successful in bringing
research satellite data to us, but also preparing us for the future operational data that we now implement in the models and that includes not only the national weather service, but the satellite service component of noaa and other researches throughout the community. and it is really been a tremendous success. but there are other things that we could do. nasa has pushed a -- an organization called -- don't ask me about the acronym, they've done research on our operational system in every local forecast office in the state of florida, advancements on to that system. what does that do? that allows us to get those advancements into the local forecast offices, into the national centers faster and we've been doing that. we've been doing that for fires and floods, et cetera, et cetera. so we have a very strong relationship with nasa. and i hope that we -- that we continue that kind of
relationship as we move forward. >> excellent. thank you very much and with that, madam chair, i yield back. >> mr. mig milan is recognized. >> well, i think the witnesses for your testimony this morning. it is really interesting to hear the evolution of the weather service and what you've been able to accomplish over the years. so my first question will be to doctor mus, over the past few years, we've been devastated by historic wildfire seasons, the weather service and the meteorologist or imf are critical to helping our incident commanders. you mentioned in your testimony
that the imf are being stretched too thin with only 89 trained forecasters and 18 in training. what is the actual need for imf? >> well, we have increasing the numbers and making them more available to these offices and to these areas that needed. we coordinated of course through the group up in idaho, and that is how our folks get assigned to the fires. the fact that is we just set a record this year for the number of ifm requirements but we've been increasing those numbers and training. one of the stress points on this is that with the fire season growing in time, i think the fire community calls it a fire year now, that actually impacts on the training.
there is down time, that we used to use the down time for training, continued training, because they have to be certified to be on the line with the firefighters and these are really brave souls that are out there fighting the fires and the imf are right next to them, right with them. so we have that kind of an issue. but we've worked hard to see this trend line to get those numbers up and those are located in offices across the country and as they're assigned, they fly in and they go into the fire areas. we've increased the numbers where dealing with the struggle on time to make sure they're all certified in training and this year we've met the record of basically -- we've broken the record numbers. and, yeah, it is a stress point
but it is a stress that we're addressing, i believe. >> very good. well, we expect the need for ifm to be going over the next few years. especially with fire season coming around and fire year as you put it coming around. are we specifically addressing that need? >> yes. >> are you specifically addressing that need. >> -- >> yes. and we're working, the administration has a priority to work through the interagency approaches to this and responding to the needs accordingly. but we are internally adjusting to spend more imf and making them readily available as requested. >> what about the statutory pay limits for federal workers. is that a problem, a long standing problem for your agency? >> it is been a problem. i believe we're addressing it. every year we work through the
different processes that they do get paid. it is just that there is that -- when you hit up against it, there is, put it this way, there are things that happen that we have to work through. we've been more proactive with that and we have a smoother process in place to address it. and it is not just us working as an individual agency, we have to go to top of government to deal with this issue. >> of course. mr. wood, have the limits presented a barrier to the available -- from your perspective. >> thank you. absolutely. and i greatly appreciate congresswoman for introducing i believe a bill that is going to help our incident meteorologists, wildfire hurricane act, you get up to a point, because they're out there so often right now because wildfires are so frequent, that they hit the pay cap and they could no longer be deployed out
there any more. so if we get that, we'll release that pay gap. there are folks who are very dedicated and will continue to work to support the fire. >> what other obstacles are there other than the pay limits? >> um, i think just because of the frequency. we need more men and to get them trained takes time. that is a big thing. and then there is also we have a deal that we have a pay cap for biweekly pay cap where folks work on the fires and putting in 16-hour days and but they don't get paid for that for several pay periods later because the system doesn't react quick enough at times, to make sure that shows up in their paycheck. >> thank you. my time has expired. i yield back. >> thank you. >> mr. baird is recognized.
scenarios where actually you can have increasing budgets and lower staff counts needed as a result of technology devolving, efficients improving within that technology. but it looks like based on some of the written testimony we have in front of us, the staffing needs are actually validated and confirmed that we're well below what is actually necessary and i do have a question about wildfires in the west. i actually want to put more on your plate with regards to wildfire prediction, modeling and support of the public utility companies locally. but i also want to give the doctor an opportunity to talk about what are the causal factors and potential remedies? it sounds like we agree that the staffing issues and getting people on boarded -- is it a
retention problem? is it a recruiting problem? a process problem? how do we incentivize people to stay and come to the national weather service so we can get back on step to where the staffing levels are matching the mission statements that we're providing you all. >> that's directed towards me, representative. >> yes, sir. >> i just wanted to make sure. >> i just want to ensure everyone -- this was also reviewed by the gao. to our new budget process that we implemented in 2015 where there is staffing in each portfolio, but concentrated -- the staffing for the field is concentrating in what we call analyzed forecast support. we've been very diligent and identifying not only the needs of how many people we have out there, but how do we support these people getting the job
done. and that's a balancing act within the budget process. and the budget process involves going through the executive branch, trying to get the requirements met through that process and then bringing to it the hill. the final part of that, of course, is that we have to show our budget plan before the money is allotted. we list a number of ftes. the counts are not up to what they probably should be. we go requirement by requirement. but that's what the money will buy. from an fte count and from the -- from those programs and activities that are needed to actually support them, train them, get them the local travel that, you know -- they can meet with the emergency management community at every tabletop exercise. you can go down the list. and we got reviewed by the gao on that and we were found that
we do follow the amount of money allocated. there's no impoundment of funds from what we have to pay our people. but that gao review is actually quite specific in terms of following the budget process and mapping our -- >> doctor, not to cut you off. i only have a minute. i want to clarify with my question. are we saying then that this is a budgeting problem? nonsupervisory employees presented -- showed that we went from 3900 ftes down to 3300 ftes during budget increases. yet we're still understaffed. dr. johnson mentioned the hiring process itself is taking too long. i want to make sure we're looking at this clear-eyed.
i'm trying to put more on your plate with wildfires that we can talk offline about. are you happy getting the ftes on board in a timely fashion? >> if i may say that right now, it's 99% staffing. which is pretty good. the highest staffing that we had since 2015. our hiring rate is at 98 days. it's a tremendous improvement of where we were. and i would say that in working with the appropriations side of the hill, i think we have convinced them that this is a funding. there is a funding component to the issue that needs to be addressed. and the president's budget does increase the budget analyzed forecast support and there's
more that's going to be needed as we move forward. >> i'm out of time. i have to yield back. i will submit that the employee organization may be inconsistent -- testimony there may be inconsistent with that assertion. but we can talk through that on the appropriation side and mr. warner, if you would like to comment. i'm out of time. i can yield back, i think, chairwoman. >> thank you. thank you very much. i don't know how -- i think i know how he came up with the 99%. what they used was not used what was on the table which is the actual gao used in their 2017 study. they didn't like the way the national weather service is moving bodies around. but i think it's something like 4,066 in that organization. for some reason they've knocked
that number down based on what they consider active positions and inactive positions. numbers like 4,623. so by the organizational table, which is jao references, we're not at 99% staffing. insofar as getting people in the organization, there are hundreds of candidates, i'm told, bidding on every position, just about, that's out there. there's a lot of folks who want to participate and get a chance to serve the public and try to protect lives and property. would love to get in the national weather service. they're out there. we just need to bring them in. >> thank you, sir, i yield back. >> mr. bowman is recognized. >> thank you so much. thank you for your testimony and for your many years of service. hurricane ida killed almost 40
people in new york state and led to the destruction of funding and schools in my district. in your view, given that unprecedented events like ida will keep happening, what specific improvements are most imperative now that could help prevent the kind of heartbreaking loss of life and damage that we saw in new york. >> one of the things that -- when a situation like this happens, we -- and with the emergency management community, the first responders, we -- our job doesn't end when that event ends. we get back right away. what can we do better. what happened on this particular case? what are the lessons learned. we try to get that turn around rather than quickly because, you're right, it can happen
again. part of nassau county to the east, part of westchester county to the north. and it's the most extensive flooding, urban flooding that new york city has experienced. so how do you prepare for something like that? if it's going to happen again, when will it happen again, we got to practice. even if it's a relatively rare event now, it's a high-impact event that we have to be ready for. quite frankly, we're going to have to learn how to message to that in a way and -- it's not just us. it's the whole community. how will people respond to an event like that? this is something that -- it's a continuum. that episode is over, we'll just move on to the next area that gets hit by rain. we're looking at these types of events to learn from them, from a forecast and a response
perspective. we're doing it in partnership with the emergency management community. >> thank you very much. my next question is about s.t.e.m. education and climate jobs. thank you for your testimony. as a former each other, i appreciate your attention to community outreach in education. when we talk about green jobs, weather forecasting may not be the first thing that typically comes to mind. but it's a perfect example of a career path that is both intellectually stimulating and essential for our future. at the same time as you pointed out, all of our children, tomorrow's adults, need to understand the climate crisis and they need to be able to identify and reject this information. i'm wondering if you can expand on your testimony to explain how the national weather service and other agencies can improve their own long-term capacity and effectiveness through investment in children and climate
education. what kind of law do we need here so that young people are prepared for a wide range of s.t.e.m. careers and to drive on a hotter planet? >> thank you. certainly, on the education front, one thought is, when it comes to weather science and preparedness and safety, in the curriculum, at the elementary and middle school level, there can definitely be increases so that we can get that education at that younger age, elementary to middle, then to high school. and that's so they can get into this process of preparedness and knowing all about safety. and then that would then instill even more interest into the s.t.e.m. careers and into meteorology and climate studies at the college level. taking it through at a younger level and getting them educated
about it and getting them inspiring and excited about it as well. and so programs where the weather ready ambassador program, where we work with schools to conduct media at the national weather service and, of course, the university where we do bring in students. we have events where we bring in students of all ages and do weather s.t.e.m. events. we try to get very interactive, immersive, and show them how exciting it is to get into these areas. at the same time, show them how important it is to their future. >> thank you so much. i yield back. >> mr. baird is recognized. >> yes. thank you, madam chair, and ranking member, and all the witnesses for being here today. it's really an interesting -- i always learn something from these science committee meetings.
my first question, doctor, i really respect your service to our country and for the things you have done. but my first question goes to the idea that we use high-performance computing, including our emergency capabilities to be integrate into ai. do those help the national weather service with their predictions and how does this enable communities to mitigate the impact of more frequent severe weather events? >> so if i may in answering that question just note that there are really three fundamental components making a new her cal prediction system work and making it work operationally at
99.% reliability which we do with a backup computer. you have to have the computing capacity to do that. and historically weather prediction has been one of the main drivers for the -- what we now call supercomputers. one of the original drivers for that back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, we wanted the main drivers for that. you need that. we need global observations. i like to say, all forecasts are local. you want to know what's going to happen in your backyard. they're all driven by global observing systems. even at the one day mark, so that's where the importance of the satellite coverage comes in, for example. and other data sets. you don't have one golden data set that can do it all. you need a collection of them. then you get into the science and modeling for the data assimilation and running the models themselves and post processing the models to exact the information from them. those three fundamental components is what we're in the
middle of. and what we're in partnership with the larger community to make all of that happen at the private sector, academic communities, larger research labs, other agencies. all of the above. with respect to the aai, machine learning aai, machine learning is becoming i important inmp several componen of that model process, the post-processing and extracting the information from the observation to get into the models inrv a way that they cane used to enhance the prediction. so we're there. we're there with that science and technology with the benefactors of it moving forward.ly we rely on it not only to do today'sre forecast but to prepa ourselves for the future. as you can see, it's going to be increasing demands on what we can do to serve society.
the weather getting more extreme andnc that is a part of it. modelling system, as i just described, is goin' to be a key componentt in moving us forward. >> so continuing in that vein, do you have access to the department of energy's supercomputers? they've got three of the five fastest,re i think, in the worl. > so there are research components of our company that has access. i would m say our previous attempts to get some operational models onto their systems have been tested on those times of computers, because we do go to a
ten-year procurement cycle with three-year blocks in there to try to stay on top of the computingmp capacity advancemen the computer c technology that see as we are now going towards the exoscale type of abilities. bute the department of energy doesn't lend itself to having operational models on its system for either tests or use. i would like to see something done in that regard. i've attempted several times in my career, but i haven't crosser the finish line with that effort. >> thank you very much. it looks like i have five seconds left. i wish i could have asked questions of the other witnesses, but with that, madam chair, i yield back.
>> i would also like to echo my congratulations and operation to dr. uccellini to his career and service to our country. he and i are both graduates of the university of wisconsin which for centuries has been guided by something called the wisconsin idea meaning we should, quote, never be content until the beneficial influence of the university reaches every family in the state. as explained by edwin stevenson ii, it meant more than just a belief to t the people, it also meant faith and reason to the problems of societies. it meant a deep conviction that the wall of government would not justdr stumble along like a drunkard in the dark, but an understanding that they would comply. there really can be no better embodiment than in his career.
they seem to be against the logic, and that can't help recruitment challengers. i want to urge every young person with an interest in s.t.e.m., have a look at dr. uccinilli's career. i would like to talk about the value of other forecasting to keep people apprised in our district. our family lost its sailboat stored a few miles away in made son. as a result, my mother bought a little emergency -- one of these little radio warning boxes and she was always careful a to tes and make sureul the battery was still alive on it.
30 years later, the city of plainfield, the district i representer in illinois, had on of the most devastating storms on record. this last june,s dupage county and areasor i represent faced their worst tornado in 50 years, rated a 3 by the national weatherth service. but because the nws was able to issue a timely warning and help local authorities prepare, not a single life wasas lost. thect destruction of homes caus by the tornado was just devastating, but this really constitutes thehe success of ou nation's weather forecasting system which exists, first and foremost, to keep us all safe. ifik i could return a little mo to m the ai aspect of it. there were newspaper stories and
itt won some contest for the bt performance of local short-term weather forecasting. i was wondering if you're seeing the same trend in your supercomputer more toward wanting ai action than traditional vector pipeline machines. are you seeing a shift in what you're going to be asking for in the next generation because of ai? or do you end up pretty much just want more of the same? >> actually, we were one of the first operational units in the world to go from vector screens toe parallel processing. we've been in parallel processing since 2001 and led the way on that. the artificial intelligence machine learning isg certainly somethingnl that we are paying attention i to, we are involved with, and it will influence how we operate, i think -- especially over the latter part of o this decade in a sense we'
be growing it, we'll be using it. it will influence our next generation computing. so you've got that technology. you also have the cloud technology. we use the system so much that we'll probably stick with an internal cloud-based system likw we have now, but we'll see. things are changing really fast. fran ai machine learning perspective where nella are making accelerated advances with use of that type of approach. >> if you could recommend turning up our investment and either giving higher density data points throughout our country in the world or more ppu, whereet is the highest tur on investment there? >> the street components i outlined, you're only as strong
as your weakest link. when i took over the weather service in ve2013, we had compur capacityty in which i could not transition models from the research component of nella. we had research components for five years before i could switch to the machine with all the responsibilities we havech on tt machine. we were way behind what the europeans hadha for model capacity. it was one of thee biggest issus that we faced. we're comparable now. so the point is that if you take away from any one of those components, tpu, the science, global innovations, it will slow down our move forward. sorry to say that. everybody wants people to make a lift thatak has priorities in i but we'res only as strong as th weakest link when it comes to these modmodellings.
>> thank you for everything. my time is up and i yield back. >> thank you for your kind words. i do appreciate the wisconsin idea.sc transplanted into it from new york. that's where i grew up but it assimilated into everything i learned there and taking that into my dedication to public service. >> thank you so much, thank you for there witnesses being here with us today. as a lifetime resident of the of oklahoma, i know a thing or two about extreme weather and the importance of immediate weather reporting. just yesterday morning at 5:00 a.m., we had tornadoes touch down in my district, and my family wast. alerted because of the importance of the things the national weather service does. i recognize that weather can change with only a moment's notice, and it's important that people at noa have the
technology available to prepare for these impacts. because of this i recently introduced hr-24, the noa weatherization act for technology of weathero radios t ensure no one is left behind in weather emergencies. speaking of maintenance, update for weatherrv services and technology, the budgett reconciliation piece that came through this committee contained $743 million for deferred maintenanc for noa while the deferreded budget only requeste 454 million. that's obviously a very large difference toward maintenance that we've heard little about. dr. uccillini, is upgrades in maintenance important or just keeping them functional? >> we have a separate portfolio for our facilities, for our --
that houses the weather service, and it isho the smallest portfoo that we have, and we -- i came inton a situation in which maintenance at the facilities themselves was put on hold, and weth made that a priority earlyn in the infrastructure. i would say that it's still an issue, we're still catching up on the facilities, though also trying to -- some of these facilities we own, some we rent. when the lease comes up, we're looking for someone to partner. if we canh get the resources to
do it, it's provenwe to be a bi success. that's one way to do it -- houston is a great example of that, by the way, and so is albany coming up in november opening up that new building. the weather office is, right across the street from the state emergency f operations. those are the kinds of things we'relo looking for, but we hav to deal with the maintenance of theit facilities we're in today and the infrastructure for our ip and dissemination program ash well. so that's the budget balance we're trying to work with as we work through the system. >> to sort of add onto that, and lett me also give my apologies o mr. weir and mr. johnson for these questions and not giving
you much time. as far as the operation center in y norman, do you think they e meeting their full operational abilities or do they need upgrades? >> both units are really fantastic units. the rock is the basis for our next -- nexrad. we do have our nexrad on time and onth budget. i want to emphasize that. it's anm incredible update to te entire system. they're totally focused on that. at the same time, we are trying to prepareti for the next generation radars. and it's in that research area which includes the o.a.r., the oceanic and research component,
we have to look at that because there is a new generation of systems. so there is that. in terms of operating, we're really okayan there. we've advanced and sustained a great rberth. the storm prediction center has -- their staffing is secure, they moved forward, they're there.y i would say that as the severe weather season, we've had a great activityy of bio weather. they actually put something out for the buyer. the point is i think there are stress levels that will be developing in that area and we'll have to look at it. >> thank you. my time has expired. i yield back. >> ms. strauss is recognized. >> thank you so muchmo and than you for holding this hearing,
chairwoman johnsonem and rankin member lewis.or thank you to the panel for joining ussi for this very important discussion. my home state of north carolina is particularly vulnerable to extreme weather like floods and hurricanes, and that's why accurate, prompt weatherhe forecasting fromhu the national weather service is critical to protecting lives, personal property and our infrastructure. butst as we saw with the foreca in the deadly 2011 tornado season. exceptional forecasts alone cannot predict lives. rather, it would require, as we discussed, a whole of government approach where the national weather servicehe collaborates with local officials, individuals and organizations responsible for making public safetyi decisions. i look forward to talking about
ways to increase this collaboration, and i want to build a little bit on what representative bowman raised about inspiring the next generation of scientists and forecasters. here inle raleigh, north caroli, we have a wonderful newly renovated science museum that has a component in focuses on the lcweather. it brings in schoolchildren from all over the state to have hands-on experiences. it also encourages citizen scientists. i'd like to know from dr. uccellini and maybe mr. salma what your experiences are with citizen scientists and collaborationn from the communiy to helping to not only publicize weather events but also to help with public safety.
>> i guess i'll go first. i am a firm believer, by the way, of the s.t.e.m. education and the citizen science aspect. i was past president of the neurological society for the past 25 years and i continue working with education k through 12 and what this could bring to their program, not only in terms of p the -- from a museum pointf view but realec data so kids ca make forecasts on whether school will open the next day or not. the thing is, the citizen science, we have a co-op observing roprogram, about 3,00 and it's formed theon backbone the -- we have a subset of 3,000 that provides information for the climate statistics for this country.
i get the opportunity to award these families that have been involved in this for 75 years, the thomas jefferson award is supposed to be 75. it's just incredible to see the dedication all over the country of families that have passed this abilityab down so they don need to n fight, right? because climate records are really important if you can keep the site c maintained and all that.ha it's really phenomenal. in having those award ceremonies, to dodo this virtuay has been a real plus because you get to seeci the excitement of what these people bring, and they still talk about their grandfathers and great-grandfathers and grandmothers who wentt out the in blizzards to get that daily observation, right? so it's really an amazing part of what we do, and we're trying to build on that because with thisis type of technology, you
know, everybody has observations thatat they want to share with , and in realtime that can make a big difference. i'm just saying this is a component we've embraced when we can and i'm certainly a big fan of it. >> all right. mr. salma, do you have anything you would like to add? >> i just want to jump on the sciences concept. this is a big part of our teaching in south florida. we have teamed up with all our noage partners and everyone who come together in a science environment that's very
immersible and fun for the kids. they're taking high-level science from a local university to the community through their exhibits. that's why we put the wind exhibit wothere, too, so we can explain the importance of wind engineering andnd mitigation. >> thank you, and i yield back. >> mr. veenstra is recognized. >> thank youri for sharing your researchch and experience. dr. uccellini, i am working on legislation that aims to create a research and development program w involving the nationa weather service and noa as research. it would causetr radar obstruction. a key portion would involve
complications for advanced and meteorologicalrt services, icam. they are vital members but also counts on input from agencies. can you tell us why it's so important to have the department of defense, energy and agencies whensc meteorological policies d practices are discussed? >>is well, i would say it's important in general because they're users of the information as iowell. and as we have all of our forecasts available. with respect to thehe radar construction issues, we track the performance of our radars every day. we assess, you know, on an annual basis with respect to
obstruction t issues, for examp, relatedow to growing trees. we're now working with the research institutes and some of these agencies,en by the way, wh respect to what's happening with the wind farms in the central part of the country that actually has now caused obstruction within the return signal coming back to the radars. so these are problems that are very complex, so you have to go with the sciences, but also deal with the folks in the user community who have to rely on other things, like wind energy, for example, and what that would mean. we're in that mix and attempting to work with these folks that have been rather successful, and we realize we have to solve these issues.
it might come today, though, especially in some areas with trees and other obstructions, people whoho build buildings, tt we may have to move the radar somewhere else. that's an expensive proposition. itso averages $10 million a pop so we don't do that lightly. but there are some examples already that it looks like the only solution, when we get into this obstructive view, is to move. very rare, but it can happen. >> i appreciate those comments, because as you know, i live in iowa and we have a lot of winter, which is fantastic, but they do create some obstacles or obstructions. last month when we had mr. spinerod testify. youutd mentioned the vast arra
radar for future weather detection. it alsogi focuses on the future legislation i'm working on. can you explain the benefit of radarhe that can complement our systems? >> you don'tha have the rotating parts. you don't have the extent of the vertical scams which all takes time to observe and then to process. it could be minutes into when we put the information out, it was five minutes of data. part o of it is real fast acces to the data. you know, minuteses count in a warning. sore there is an advantage. one of the disadvantages is that one of the advances we've made with the nexrad is called the
pole ladder. it's thelo vertical aspect of i which has allowed us to speed better intoru the clouds and th structures of the rain shafts, the potential rotation, the brief flow that actually signals a tornado on the ground can now be observed, the type of precipitation, the rates, the amount of precipitation falling is all advanced with dual poles. we have to be careful as we move forward with these, and we are. do believe that radar is the call of the future, but we have toe ensure that the research and t technology adds what we can do now. i'm sure that the science and technology is going to bring that answer to us, but we have to go through the steps. >> thank you so much for your
comments. thank you for all your work and each person that have testified, thank you so much. i yield back. >> mr. katz is next. >> thank you so much. thank you, chairman and ranking member and to our witnesses. i would like to enter for the record a a paper by james hanse in the last month. if i could have unanimous consent on that? i'll take thatt as a yes. dr.ba hansen's work is somewhat speculative but it says that we have underdramatically underestimated future planning.
the kicker in the article is he says, we shouldgl expect that t global warming rate for the quarter century, 2015 to 2040, to be about double the rate from 1970 to 2015. that's obviously a bit of a gut punch. dr. uccellini, i don't want to confuse climate science and weather forecasting, but i am curious from the computational perspective, if we are seeing a warming that that's quick, how much are you testing your weather systems tore model scenarios o increasingly out of the range of data? >> that's a very interesting question. the fact a is that the equation
we use in the miracle weather predictionam are the basic physs and dynamics that are also being usede in the climate domain. we are accounting for now aerosols, particulate matter. i have ath lot of respect for h and he has a lot of foresight, so he's worth listening to. we will t need high-resolution
models. we will need high-resolution models to deal with that kind of work. ly -- in new york city, you don't have any past events that had 1.94 inches of rain that we got, and then 3.15 are preliminary numbers. 3.15 in an hour two weeks later. so exactly the physics of that and how i that's working is another part of the research equation we'll have to look into. that's for observations, short-term forecasts and
extended forecasts. it's one of these challenges that we're going to have to embrace, but it's going to take basically the whole community to deal with this in the weather, the water, and the climate communities to s collectively study these issues and to allow us to make the advances on an operational basis. >> i know ae lot of my colleags have been askingfi you about staffing levels.s. we can solve the computational issues, should we be thinking about this primarily as a computational problem or is it also a staff problem to go throughug and ask the questionse haven't thought to ask before? >> i think this is definitely relevant to the staffing because there's going to be increasing demand forca products and information, even on something like you just brought up, that perhaps doesn't have the full
attention today. asmo we become more susceptibleo these feedback mechanisms, it could manifest itself in events that affect society. once that starts happening, you're going to see the weather service rightdd in the middle o this inms terms of making bette forecasts, but also getting that information to decision t maker that could likely go beyond the emergencyy managers. we'll be dealing with that as well. yes, i don't disagree there is staffing, we need more staff. but the point is, i have to live with the information, which is my first rule, and secondly, we have to get it to you folks that this isth really needed. i'm a firm believer that our servicesic are going to grow, a it's not only going to be us,
it's going to be the whole enterprise.. i want to get what theth privat sector will be doing as well. i think this is growth for the entire enterprise. >>or thank you, and i appreciat your answer. i'mut out of time. i yield back but not before wishing you a very happy retirement. >> mr. eligy is recognized. >> d thank you, madam chair and mr. lucas. mr. uccellini and i flew together in 1953, so as a former naval aviator and commercial pilot until recently, weather has played a critical role in order to stay safe in my job. i've relied on forecasters and
i'm indebted to these men and women to provide accurate data. after hearingr or reading your testimonies, i believe congress must equip the organization with better tools to communicate with the general public. i would also like to point out that chairwoman johnson and i, back in december 26 of 2015, were hit with a massive tornado since we're a in the middle of that literally jumped over my house. while i was on a trip, my family was hiding in the closet and spurred me to invest in a tornado shelter at our home. so this problem isn't going away, it's i extremely importan and also as a former airline pilot for a company that recently had some issues both with weather and manning, i would like to address this to mr. warner since the management
and labor issue has always existed. there is always a tug-of-war between theif two. you've identified aan problem tt in your mind you're understaffed and that the gs construct with your work group isn't helpful. if i'm wrong there, please expound on that, and what are yourt, solutions to getting the requirement o the you need? thank you. >> i didn't quite catch the last of that question, the gs construct? >> gs 5 through 12. i think you said that's not working the way it was intended? secondnd and third order effect do.ly i would just like your thoughts on it. >> yeah, i think with regards to staffing, let me start out with this, that we firmly, totally embraced support services. let'sfo forget about the number. we've been operating in that modede continuously for a numbe
of years now. we keep talking about possible waysss to free up time. testing it out, what will work, what won't work. there are some hypothesis of what will come, but there are increasing demands on the service we provide. andth that's great. becauseal when you realize at a local l level that they really d a benefit, because most key decisions are at the local level emergency managers and public health officials because they are the ones that make the decisions thatat actually wind protecting the community. so we're fully, fully invested in sthat, and i see the strain out othere. i see lack of personnel and officers, i've seen people work in the last five years 12 hours of overtimeme in one year. that's not sustainable. we've actually created new capabilities at the hurricane center. we madeer operational the storm surge unit there with two federal employees. it became operational.
and last year during the biggest storm ever, these two folks put in over 500 hours of extra time to support the mission. thank goodness nobody caught covid. this is real. as far ass supply, it's a concet where thest whole focus -- and shouldn't be the whole focus -- is bringing bodies in, but we alsoso need experience, right? i was alerted not long ago of an office that had, out of their staffing of eight meteorologists,e they were down three. so they haveof five now, and of those five, so probably hitting full proficiecy of the gs-12 level, i think only one or two was at that level. they have aas forecaster, someo who is a gs-12 who is proficient and maybe another forecaster there. that puts a burden on that
office to provide increased products and services to get that out. but we need to step back and say, wait a minute, when we see offices that don't have that experience, we need to stop. we need to put out an announcement that will allow 11 and 12 to move there or do a lateral transfer prior to opening up this massly. there is frustration out there. >> we had people who reached a grade of 11 in their internship, and they would s have applied t this systemeo as well whchlt th got started, they got the research operations and tropical weather as well, so they're frustrated and they're leaving. >> thank you for your time, mr.
werner. mr. uccellini, sorry we didn't get to you. t i yield back. thank you for your years of service. >> thank you. >> ms. wild is recognized. > thank you very much. good afternoon, everybody. pennsylvania's seventh district located squarely inn the lehigh valley f of you ania for those who know pennsylvania geography, in the allentown-bethlehem-easton area. we recently experienced damage to our infrastructure after ida tore through our community. we had flooded roads, strong winds, lack of power and serious debrisus that made it very difficult for businesses to reopen, for people to get to work and school, and for first responders to get through them following this storm. i appreciate your testimony so far and how we can make this
country a ready. the draft warnings were. many. >> in addition to emergency managers, and health care systems and schools need timely and accurate education to respondie to it them. while resorg storing, and severity of extreme weather risks. i havega a distinguished shelte that are working through behavioral research.
thets group has received nll grants, like other agencies. they are making extreme disaster training o and management,ly. and the -- could you explain how the national weather servicely. there is health services for community and management services. >>thd going beyond the forecas wanting to interact directly with decision-making and influence with that comes the recognition that we're now entering the field of social science and dealing with exactly
how to get the best response, how to design products and services that map into specific key decision points, how to deal with the changing risk preference that people have even as you're going from a forecast ten days out to the actual event,ri people have different risk preferences, and even the emergency management community will have aer different tempo a you approach an event, so everything i' affected from a human factors perspective. so we do have now -- we partner with other wiagencies, but yet partner with line officers within noaa to leverage off their social science research. a small amount that's actually done in the weather service that's more focused on the products and services in assessing our messaging, et cetera, et cetera, and we've
already got feedback about simplifying our messaging through that activity we'll be implementing the nextt two or three i years. this is becoming increasingly in line with what we need. and certainly they are focused on how to respond to other events that are certainly y determinedly. mr. werner, based on your experience and your members' feedback p shlg. for young professionals of the weather service.
> i think -- well, basicallyt requires a degree in meteorology to become a meteorologist. we also have hydrology. we also have folks that are electronic technicians that come in here as well. i think the big thing is we need to go to these schools and actually showon the career and nation what the weather service is all about. wewe do that sometimes at the local offices. we would goid to high schools, colleges, and what does it take to get into the school? whatat do we do? come to the office andic participate in the forecast. look through this weather radar scenario r.ly did i answer your question on that? >> it's probably an open-ended
question that we talk about all afternoon. with that, madam chair, i yield back. >> ms. kim is recognized. ms. kim? if you're ready, you're recognized. huh. okay. ms. kim isn't available now. we'll go with -- we'll give her one last second. ms. kim? ms. kim is not prepared, we'll go to ms. amherst. >> thank you very much. thank you, madam chair, for convening this important panel, and thank you, mr. uccellini,
for your years with the weather service. as we all know, our communities are already experiencing the impactsri of climate changes, my have said today, and these extreme weather events are here in new mexico and the national weather service plays such a pivotal role not just in weather forecasting but increasingly in climate forecasting. and in order to enable our communities to plan for and to respond tobl these events and t changing climate, it is so vital that we c are able to accuratel model and develop a tools and technologies and to really translate and deliver that information to our communities so that it can inform their decision-making on the ground. so thiss includes both respondig to emergency situations as we've talked so much aboutut this morning, but also planning for and building a more resilient and sustainable infrastructure and futuremo for our communitie. so to do that, our communities
and our federal partners really need resources to ensure that all parts of our country, including my home state, have sufficient staffing, technology, funding, et cetera,gy for real-time observations, for forecasting, for tools and to provideto that on the ground technical assistance. andca i think like so many part of the country, this year has really punctuated the need for those investments in new mexico where we havere been simultaneously grappling with one of the most severe droughts in our wehistory, at the same te we've experienced the highest number of disaster declarations ever in your state's history due to flooding and wildfires. we're very much appreciative to the national weatherat service o has been a fantastic partner in new mexico and provides, of course, regular briefings to our state and local partners through the droughtgh monitoring work group and all of the services thatof you all provide. but new mexico needs more
support. we need more observational platforms, including things like dense nets for improving forecasts to help support our publicic safety and decision support. we don't have enough monitoring systemss and we really have severe limitations in our local weather forecasting. we also need more support for real-time precipitation and flood a alert systems, especial in our urban areas which are experiencing more severe weather incidents. just as we've been talking about allta morning, we're also facin staffingg shortages locally whh impact our forecasts and drive talent to burn out quickly and leave thend field. the national weather service does perform outreach to our communities and to our schools, but there's so much s more thate need to do to create a strong s.t.e.m. pipeline so that new mexicans can also take part in forecasting our future.
here in our state, we are home to communities that are lived on these lands t for centuries. since time in memorial. and our communities are experiencing and seeing climate change before our very eyes and we need to make sure that they have the opportunity to not only have a seat at the table, but also to build that robust s.t.e.m. workforce across our communities. so weus w see that as being pard parcel of building our s.t.e.m. workforce through our public universities, our minority-serving institutions, our tribal colleges and also partnerships withpa our two national labs who are themselves at the forefront of climate modeling. i urge all ofurur our agencies, including the weather service and noaa at large to expanding programs in new mexico and to really partner to build that pipeline in communities. so i look forward to working and supporting noaa and the weather
service ande our committee's wk on thesekn issues. and we know how critically important our forecasting capabilities are to theim futur the safety, security and well-being offe our communities. so, with that, i would like to just ask a couple of quick questions. one of the big challenges from a science perspective is how to make that leap between weather and climate forecasting so we can closean the gap. > thank you so much. i will try -- >>to to help our communities prepare for the impact of climate change. what i wanted to ask youhe this morning is how can we help support the scientific and technologicall advances that ar needed to close that gap between weather andnd climate forecasti and how can we here in congress help support that work at the weatherea service? >> we clearly need support in
that the weather climate -- i would say the weather water climate t linkage is something that's being recognized as a fundamental issue that we need to build off of and address. the -- you can't make advances in the weather domain space or the water domain space or separatecl climate domain space without thera interactions amont all of them. this is something that we're really promoting as a basis for moving forward and it certainly appliesta to the southwest, in e monsoon, whether you get or not. that's a forecast a year in advance, six months in advance, three months in advance that people plan around. and so that's a big challenge. we understand that. so it's something that we absolutely need to do. i also think in terms of getting to your users, we have shown
success in our partnership with tribal nations across the country that's success, again, built on ae trusted relations between the personnel and tribal leaders and the people there. really proud of that. again, it's something we need to build off of because all the things you've just mentioned, those threats are multiplied when you get into the tribal domains or the poorer areas in anyy state. the impacts are amplified. so this is something that certainly -- in our planning to deal withni more as effectivelys we can. let's just put it that way. >> thank you. and i know i'm out of time here. but we very much look forward to working with the weather service and i very much hope, as you all are moving forward and doing your planning for staffing and addressing many of the management and the staffing
issues that have been discussed this morning, that you will lean into t partnering with minority-serving institutions to build thatng pipeline. that's the future not only of oury communities, but i think really the future of federal service. i want to thank you all and appreciate you being here this morning. >> thank you. >> ms. kim is recognized. >> thank you very much, chairman. i would like toli thank our ranking member for holding this timelyng hearing. tomorrow i will be preparing to host a wildfire round table discussion so this is very timelyr for me. and at our wildfire round table discussion tomorrow we're to find coordination to systems between federal, state and local stakeholders and see howw we can alert and predict mechanisms ofms wildfires and
emergency response and public safety. soso i really appreciate the conversations today. i represent california 39th congressional district and my district is in southern california where the air quality is poor due to smog and wildfire smoke during the wildfire season. as a result, as you can see, th individuals with heart disease, lung disease, diabetes as well as children, the elderly and pregnant women in my district risk of these health complicationings due toea poor r quality during wildfire season. it's important that we discuss the forecasting wildfire smoke. it's not only an environmental issue, butca also an issue of public health. so, doctor, the question for you is, what iss the current state f our ability to predict smoke output andnd transport from a
wildfirert and what questions d we need to answer in order to improve smog forecast models and improve smog forecast means with regard to public health and safety. >> it's an important part of the health equation with respect to fires is the smoke. we have a number of models now thatco actually deal with articulate matter and smoke directly. and a very high resolution model which has been implemented over the past several years. it's actually what we've seen on the output from those models we've seen on tv in terms of the movement of the smoke. i would also say that we've been advancements in their satellite program. this is the satellite component of noaa, and if the launch of these stationary satellites.
the smokeke observations that ce from them incredibly high has just been phenomenal, actually. another aspect of those is being able to spot the fires. it's become one of the earliest indicators that you gotrl a fir in your neighborhood is what we're seeing on one of these images. we're there in providing observations. with air quality forecasts, i should note that we -- whatever we produce, we provide to the states and the local communities that actually make the air quality assessments and related predictions. but we do have the tools and -- improvedpr tools to get to them. are they good enough from the healthth vector perspective? that's an interesting question. it's probably another basis for an extent of research effort to
be able to have the more exact quantification of the smoke, the nature of theca smoke, the sizef the particles, et cetera. but that's an interest in the larger community, the medical communityrt in terms of what ca be done to assess locally and then use the predictions to assess what'sss going on happeng downstream fromow those fires. >> so>> would you say -- can i k you very frankly, how do you think -- how accurate are the national weather service's smog forecast? >> you know, we are doing assessment -- actually, the forecasts for theca particulate matter is i relatively good. i don't have the numbers in front of me. but there is -- basically the dynamics and the flow fields in the atmosphere that moves those
smoke and particulate matters and it's actually been pretty remarkable, i would say, i've been one of the main proponents when i was the head of the national centers for environmental prediction. we introduced these models working with epa and with the research component out in boulder,io producing the higher resolutions. it's as pretty good product already. like every other forecast system, they always f have area that need to be improved. i can guarantee you there are researchers out in boulder, colorado, who could articulate them for you. >> my time is up, but i wanted to talk about the next generation of met meteorologist. i am out of time. would you allow me, maybe, time
to ask one more question regarding? i mean -- >> if we have a second round, we'll come back. >> okay, thank you, then. i yield back. >>ha thank you.ai thank you to chair johnson and ranking member lucas for offering this stageof for discussion on what is a very important role that -- and the weather service plays in our country's security and so i thank you for that. t and i thank the witnesses for offering information to uss today, which is very important as wee go forward. before i begin, i acknowledge the doctor's 43-year career in public service, as well as his nine years of leadership at the
helm of the national weather service. doctor, you dedicated over 50 years of your life to theea fie of meteorology. and you are leaving a legacy that willac have a lasting influence for generations. so i indeed wish you the best and for you and the team at nws, thank you for your reliance on and yourth respect for science it is, indeed, critical as this nation addresses its national security andnd it's response to the challenge of climate change. for many years i have been deeply concerned about several matters within the nws. but specifically, workforce issues, and the reorganization of the national weather service forecast offices. i greatly appreciate the incredible and essential work that the nws does. however, i have remained concerned for some time about the number of vacancies and hiring backlogs at the weather
service. in the 2017 gao report, some weather service staffrt said th because positions remained vacant for b extended periods, they were concerned that the agency might be intentionally leaving vacant positions open to downsize the number of staff across operational units. doctor, does the national weather service indeed intend to downsize? >> no. >> in fiscal year 2016, the weather service's vacancy rate was 11%. what is the current vacancy rate both funded and -- with both funded and unfunded vacancies? >> i can say -- i have the number with respectav to what we're appropriated for and what's in our spend plan that was thend vetted with congress as the money was being allotted. that we are up to about 99% now.
with the baseline being what's in the appropriations bill. not the table of organization which dates back to 2000. so i -- if you'll allow me, i would like to just say that -- i would say it's been since 2017 that we finally -- all the stars lined up with respect to the processes, the hiring processes being improved within noaa and within the weather service. and being able to use programs like 5 through 12 to get more people into the weather service. we have 150 more people in the weather service today than we had in 2017. this is related principally to the entry level coming through the 5 through 12 program.
mobilization doesn't change the bottom line. it moves holes, from one office to another. what we want want is staffing that can do the job and we're working hard to get that. >> andnd i appreciate that. mr. warner, you've opined that in w your opinion, our vacant positions and how if that is the case, how would that impact the weather service's delivery of accurate forecasts? >> well, it'sst stressing the staff. the big thing, we wind up having limited what we can take on so far as support services. what is frustrating, you're going for atr time and you have partnership where you're providing the services, there's anpr expectation, a partnership then all of a sudden you're short s staffed two or three bodies, and you no longer have the critical mass to do that. you have to pull back. that's, to me, as -- it makes
us -- we're really trying to build relations and better serve the t community. >> okay. the 2021 gao report that i co-requested are chair johnson recommended that the national weather servicet develop a two-way strategy for the evolved program that p outlines how the agency will listen and respond. the report mentioned the weather service started working on a strategy in 2019. doctor, when will this communication strategy be finalized and released, who is developing it, and will it have buy in from both employees and union members? >> so, the strategy aspect is -- first of all, since 2019, we now have a cda -- and i thank john
werner and his leadership on the union side, and mary ericson who is deputy director of the weather service, really got together andt pulled that together. part of the strategy is, you know, wrapped up in that we do invite the uco to the table as we move forward. there are times, though, that there's certainly an agreement and we're attempting to work that through. like right now in the collaborative forecastou proces. there are discussions going on between the folks in the pmo and the union to bring this forward. it's something we're working on. part of this involves the staffing p plan that would come out of, you know, trying to address the increasing demand
signal that john has rightfully pointed to, by the way. we're certainly in solid agreement on that. is, how do we -- how do we get that to the point where that can bet funded along with everything else we have to do?us so i just want to ensure you that we're working on these plans, we'rere working to advan ourselves and to advance our staffing issues of -- within the budgets that we are appropriated. >> thank you. madam chair, i have two other questions that, i wanted to as of both the doctor and mr. warner. i'll getet those to the committ in writing and will advance thank the two gentlemen for their responses. i yield back. thank you. i'm sorry we ran over time. >> thank you. >> mr. buyer's is recognized. >> thank you for putting this on. let me add my congratulations
and i hope you have lots of plans for your retirement. doctor, especially because i would love to know what you and the weather service are preparing for in terms of the critical weather events in the years to come. globals surface temperature has risen 1.1 degree centigrade. the last time that the earth's service wassu this warm was 125,000 years ago. but that's not the bad news. the bad news is the ipcc now their bestat estimate is three degrees centigrade. so that's another 1.9 or almost two full degrees centigrade from where we are now with all of the things we have heard in the last two hours from my fellow members of congress. that range is 2 1/2 to 4.0 centigrades and it will break the 1.5 mark between 2025 and
2037. what can the national weather service do now to get ready for more dramatic weathernt events, ever more dramatic changes in the ability to forecast what's coming? >> well, i can say that we are certainly aware of the increasing vulnerability, i would call it increasing vulnerability, that our communities are facing with respect to these extreme events. whether it's the coastline, winter storms, hurricanes, whether it's inland with droughts. the flash droughts that are now becoming more prevalent. the heat, we talked about northwest part of this country. there were heat events this year that rivalled what you see in
phoenix. okay? it's really -- it's really stark. and, of course, the fires burning faster and hotter and impacting society. so we are trying to step up our game with respect to the ability to forecast the extremity of these events which will likely grow to deal with the vulnerability of the communities we have to workof in partnershi. this is reallypa the key is that -- those public safety officials, the emergency management, the water resource management, and one of the things we recognize and this gets back to john's concerns, mosto of the decisions on publi safety inde this country are ma at the local level. it was discovered in 1835, published it in 1838. it's stillst true today. so we have to provide this consistent and accuratee
information to all government levels. butt it's the local presence that's going to be put under extra stress in terms of dealing with this, whether it's us making then forecasts over an extended period of time, or the public safetyan officials that e out p there on the ground evacuating people orff dealing withli the community issues to react. so all of the above. we're all going to be challenged. >> thank you, doctor. warner, we talked with the 500 vacancies, some ambiguity of how much there is. why 98 days? i'm a private sector guy. i can't imagine takingn 98 day to hire anybody. background check can be done in two days. check their references in five days. mr. warner? your perspective. >> i don't know why it takes thatth long. apparently -- it's supposedly from what i've been told has sped up somewhat. i have no idea.
i think our system was broken and they're trying to get it better. i havean no idea why it takes tt long. i think it should be a lot n of quicker. there's another mechanism we could use which would be lateral assignments prior to doing the external mass hiring. and it gets people in a lot quickeror because they're alrea status employees that take care of that experience gap and then do the external mass hirings on those seats. why thosewh are going to take 9 to 98 days, i have no idea. >> i know it's better, but why is it still so long? >> this is a process that involves -- the 98 days is getting the announcement out, getting people to apply, getting it reviewed, right, going through the -- going through that process takes a month or two and then actually getting people to -- they apply but they don't necessarily agree right away. then you have to go through the
security checks. the security checks have gotten a lot better. that used to be the hole in the tent andnd we've worked that. point two, there's so many resources you have in the human resource area that it's not just the problem in the weather service. it's a problem throughout noaa. i don't have a hiring component within the weather service. i have to rely on noaa and they're improving tremendously. so we got to work through that. but we're -- 98 days is a -- is anan improvement over where we were before. and i would say that there are people who s get that hiring in school that need another month. that adds up to the average time of a when you actually fill the seat. so -- but that's -- let me assure you that we're not the private sector able to do that. but we're finding ways to
accelerate where we can. >>ce thank you very much. i yield back. >> chairwoman johnson, all the members have asked questions. andio i think we can close out e hearing whenever you're ready. >> do we have time for a second round? >> that's entirely up to you, madam chair. well, let me just suggest perhaps that those who have questions, i know thatet one of the members already said that if they would only heard maybe two that needed other time, he will submit your questions to your committee, we will then submit them to t our witnesses. let me say thank you to all of
our witnesses. this has been a very dynamic hearing and i will appreciate you spending your time with us. before we bring the hearing to a close, i want to make sure that every single witness receives a very hardy thank you and appreciate it. a the record will remain open for two weeks for additional statements for our members and for any additional questions. the committee may ask the witnesses. ourr witnesses are now dismisse and our committee hearing is closed. c-span is your unfiltered view of government. we're funded by these television companies and more, including -- ♪♪
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