NOAA names new National Hurricane Center director

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has named Bill Read director of its Tropical Prediction Center, which includes the National Hurricane Center in Miami. The post has been vacant since NOAA removed the previous director, Bill Proenza, last summer.

Read has served as the center's acting deputy director since August 2007, when Proenza left under a cloud of controversy after criticizing NOAA's reliance on its aging satellite QuickSCAT to monitor climate and assist in weather prediction.

Proenza publicly called for the system's replacement and said top NOAA administrators were not acting quickly enough. He said if QuickSCAT failed, accuracy of the center's three-day hurricane forecasts could drop by 16 percent. But Robert Atlas, director of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, told lawmakers at a joint hearing of the House Science and Technology subcommittees on Energy and Environment and Investigation and Oversight in July that while the system was "well past its design life…NASA says QuickSCAT appears healthy and has fuel to last until 2011."

NOAA reassigned Proenza as director of its National Weather Service office in Fort Worth, Texas, in September.

Read served as meteorologist-in-charge of the Houston/Galveston National Weather Service office before moving to Miami in August.

Conrad C. Lautenbacher, NOAA administrator and undersecretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere, said Read "has what it takes be the nation's hurricane center director. He's spent 30 years of his career as a weather professional with NOAA, dedicated to protecting lives from severe weather, much of it hurricanes and tropical storms."

National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes said Read "brings a wealth of experience in meteorology and management to this position. He has a clear understanding of the needs of staff, the emergency management community and the public in fulfilling our mission of saving lives and property."

Besides the hurricane center, the Tropical Prediction Center has two other divisions -- the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch, which issues year-round marine forecasts and warnings over the tropical and subtropical North Atlantic and eastern Pacific and the Technical Support Branch, which provides support for the center's computer and communications systems and develops techniques for cyclone and weather analysis and prediction.

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