Even in a tight budget environment, Bogdan said a weather commission provides a “golden opportunity for public, private and academic sectors to come together and agree on shared roles and responsibility and how we ensure that the very best science and technology out there makes it into our operations.”
The effort builds on a recent National Academy of Sciences study of modernization efforts at the National Weather Service, which recommended greater collaboration between the private sector and other organizations involved in forecasting.
On Wednesday, the coalition posted an open letter on its website soliciting feedback on how the commission should be structured. Bogdan said the comments will inform the legislation he expects to be introduced next year.
Hill staffers have made it clear they are looking for “broad consensus” from the weather community, Bogdan said. The group has also held discussions with the Obama administration, which has not taken an official position on the idea of a commission.
One possible stumbling block is the poisonous politics surrounding climate change. While declining to blame that for Sandy’s unprecedented magnitude, Bogdan said he expects the commission will consider the science underlying major storms.
“The focus of the commission I think is going to be around extreme weather, weather in general and those events that have a very immediate impact on our society and our culture,” he said. “But I hope that the science that goes into it will encompass all the relevant science that really does impact what’s happening.”
Congress has twice created similar commissions to develop ocean policies, including a 1966 panel that led to the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.