Reps. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and Jay Obernolte, R-Hesperia, have introduced the Improving Atmospheric River Forecasts Act, which would establish a program within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve the forecasting of atmospheric rivers, powerful storms that carry the risk of severe flooding and snowfall that caused substantial damage across the state this year.
California was hit with at least 12 atmospheric rivers this past winter, dumping more than 30 trillion gallons of water on the state, and resulting in the loss of life and property damage, Garcia’s office said in a news release.
“Atmospheric rivers caused major flooding this past winter in CA-27, especially in Lake Hughes, wiping out roads and damaging homes and property in our communities,” Garcia said in the release. “The Improving Atmospheric River Forecasts Act is a critical bill that will lead to better atmospheric river forecasting to mitigate the loss of life and property.”
The congressman added: “Additionally, better forecasting will allow us to capture more water from atmospheric river events to help vulnerable communities withstand the dry season. This legislation will equip us with the tools to fortify our communities against severe weather and better utilize the precipitation to insulate those same communities against drought; a win-win for California.”
“Communities in my district and across our state were caught unprepared by severe weather emergencies this winter and suffered immensely as a result,” Obernolte said in the release. “The establishment of a pilot program at NOAA along with an atmospheric river forecast improvement program will help provide more time for local governments to prepare before a storm and preserve both lives and property. It will also further efforts to capture the water we receive during these storms and mitigate the impacts of drought during dry periods.”