WASHINGTON, D.C., July 17, 2023 – U.S. Senator Katie Britt (R-Ala.), a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, continues to fight to modernize severe weather detection equipment and forecasting technology to saves lives across Alabama. As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, she voted last week to advance the FY 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which includes significant measures secured by Senator Britt to accomplish this goal.
At Senator Britt’s request, the legislation would appropriate $3 million for the expansion and upgrade of the South Alabama Mesonet, a network of automated weather stations located in Mobile, Baldwin, Escambia, Conecuh, Covington, Coffee, Geneva, and Houston Counties, in addition to southeastern Mississippi and northwest Florida. The South Alabama Mesonet provides information to meteorologists to ensure accurate forecasts and adequate severe weather warnings to residents. The expansion is expected to lead to better monitoring and forecasts of weather and severe weather conditions, particularly in Southwest Alabama.
Additionally, the bill would block the Biden Administration’s proposed Fiscal Year 2024 cuts to the VORTEX program and dedicate $12 million to the initiative, which works to reduce the loss of life and economic damage of tornadoes. Through this program, experts at the University of Alabama in Huntsville work to improve tornado forecasts and warnings, and this funding would ensure the program continues to improve tornado forecasts and warnings despite the Biden Administration’s attempt to defund the program.
In 2022, Alabama recorded 98 tornadoes in the state, the second-highest year on record.
Earlier this year, Senator Britt raised her concerns with the Biden Administration’s proposed cuts to both the South Alabama Mesonet and the VORTEX program when U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo testified before the committee.
“Across Alabama, families have had to make split-second, life-or-death decisions in the face of tornadoes. I know firsthand that funding severe weather detection equipment and putting accurate data in the hands of our meteorologists will allow more people to prepare and get to safety. As a member of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, I am proud to fight for this critical funding, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that we continue investing in these essential programs,” said Senator Britt.
The FY 2024 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act now moves to the full Senate for consideration.