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Alexander: New Weather Service Reporting Will Make Flood Warnings More Like Tornado Alerts

MARYVILLE -- U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today called the National Weather Service's new flood-prediction efforts, as outlined in a report the Service released today, "an important step" toward making the agency's flood warnings more like its tornado predictions.

"During our Senate hearing in July," the senator said, "I urged the National Weather Service to do as good a job with flood warnings as it does with predicting tornado activity. This new system for predicting water levels and communicating flood warnings is an important step in that direction, at first in Nashville, but eventually nationwide. Tornadoes can be devastating, but flooding causes three times as much damage nationwide each year as all other disasters combined."

On July 22, 2010, at Sen. Alexander's request, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development (of which he is a member) held a hearing called "Lessons from the 2010 Tennessee Flood" to investigate what went wrong during the May 1-4, 2010, flooding and what could be improved, in terms of predicting water levels and communicating flood warnings to the public, in order to minimize the loss of life and property in future flood disasters.

During his opening statement at the hearing, Alexander said, "We've done a great job with forecasting tornadoes and improving that forecast. The National Weather Service and other agencies have been working with broadcasters who are also here today. If you turn on the TV, oftentimes they can tell you that a tornado is coming down your street 15 minutes before it's going to hit your house. That wasn't true ten years ago. There have been great advances in not only gathering accurate information, but in providing information to people in a timely and accurate matter so that they can take action to prevent damage and save their lives. Can we do that same kind of thing with a different phenomenon, and that is rising water?"

Published January 13, 2011

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