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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Dec 1, 2016.
(Sec. 1) This bill directs the Department of Commerce to complete, within 90 days after enactment of this bill, a study on gaps in the coverage of the Next Generation Weather Radar of the National Weather Service (NEXRAD).
In conducting this study, Commerce shall identify areas in the United States with limited or no NEXRAD coverage below 6,000 feet above ground level of the surrounding terrain.
For those areas identified, Commerce shall also:
identify the key weather effects for which prediction would improve with improved radar detection; identify additional sources of observations for high impact weather available and operational for such areas, including Terminal Doppler Weather Radar, air surveillance radars of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and cooperative network observers; and assess the feasibility and advisability of efforts to integrate and upgrade federal radar capabilities in such areas that are not owned or controlled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including radar capabilities of the FAA and the Department of Defense. In addition, under such study Commerce shall:
assess the feasibility and advisability of incorporating state-operated and other nonfederal radars into the operations of the National Weather Service; identify options to improve radar coverage in all of the areas identified as having limited or no NEXRAD coverage; and estimate the cost of, and develop a timeline for, carrying out each of the options identified. After completing the study, Commerce shall submit a plan for improving radar coverage in the identified areas by integrating and upgrading, where practicable, additional observation solutions to improve hazardous weather detection and forecasting.
Commerce shall seek third-party reviews on scientific methodology related to, and the feasibility and advisability of, implementing the plan to improve radar coverage, including the extent to which warning and forecast services of the National Weather Service would be improved by additional NEXRAD coverage.