The hurricane chief will take over the management of the meteorological services
WASHINGTON – A meteorologist who oversaw warnings and forecasts during one of the most intense hurricane surges on record in the Atlantic will take over as the new director of the National Weather Service, as scientists expect that extreme and dangerous storms and heat waves are getting worse with climate change.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Tuesday named National Hurricane Center Director Ken Graham to head the weather service, succeeding winter storm expert Louis Uccellini, who retired Jan. 1. In Graham’s four years as head of the hurricane center, there have been more named Atlantic storms, 101, than in any other four-year period since 1851, according to University of State of Colorado.
After starting as an intern, Graham, 53, also ran weather service offices in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama. He was also a television weatherman in Mississippi.
At a press conference on Tuesday, Graham emphasized not only the science of more accurate forecasts, but also the need to make them easier for the public to obtain and understand in order to help people avoid danger.
“A perfect forecast doesn’t do much unless the word gets out,” Graham said.
Graham recalled his brief time as a 24-year-old TV weatherman when he went live to talk about a tornado and received a call from a family in a mobile home in the tornado’s path. He told them to get out. Later they called him back and thanked him saying “we are alive and our house is gone”.
In an interview in May, Graham said, “In nearly 28 years in the weather service, I’ve seen a lot of damage. Many people lose everything, many lives lost.
The 2018 U.S. National Climate Assessment said warming-laden extremes “have already become more frequent, intense, widespread, or long-lasting” and will only get worse.
Several outside meteorologists have praised the choice, with Kristen Corbosiero, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Albany, saying Graham’s experience with storms and operational forecasting will benefit the weather service “because Weather extremes are only increasing in number as the climate continues to warm.”
National Hurricane Center deputy director Jamie Rhome will take over Graham’s former role as acting director.
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