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NOAA to modernize & make public precipitation data

December 19, 2022

PRECIP Act promotes collaboration against flooding.

Passage of the Providing Research and Estimates of Changes in Precipitation Act (PRECIP Act) will update out-of-date precipitation data in the United States by providing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with funding and guidance to conduct future research.

As NOAA studies ongoing changes in rainfall, reports are anticipated to help communities better prepare for extreme weather and flooding events.

“Flooding puts American lives and property at risk, resulting in billions of dollars in economic losses each year,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) stressed, “We must take every necessary step to protect communities from the increasing frequency of natural disasters caused by climate change… this bipartisan legislation … will provide NOAA with vital funding to consult with partner organizations and conduct studies to modernize and improve our nation’s precipitation data. This will be essential as we continue to face the realities of … extreme weather across the country.”

Wicker added, “One threat from flooding is dam failure, and in Mississippi there are hundreds of state-regulated dams with a high hazard potential. Forty-two of these dams have failed and nine others have been drained. With this important legislation signed into law, dam control managers can get the data they need to improve dam safety and protect Americans.”

Specifically, the PRECIP Act requires NOAA to:

    • Update precipitation frequency estimates for the U.S.
      NOAA must include specified information in updates and make publicly available certain precipitation frequency estimate studies.
    • Consult with relevant partners on the development of a plan to update probable maximum precipitation estimates.
    • Develop guidance regarding probable maximum precipitation estimates that
      (1) provides best practices for federal and state agencies, private meteorological consultants, and other users who perform probable maximum precipitation studies;
      (2) considers the recommendations provided in the National Academies study;
      (3) facilitates review of probable maximum precipitation studies by regulatory agencies; and
      (4) provides confidence in regional and site-specific probable maximum precipitation estimates.

The full text of the legislation can be viewed here.