Jun 7, 2022 - Energy & Environment

Hurricane Center director tapped to lead National Weather Service

Hurricane Idea nears landfall in 2021.

Satellite image of Hurricane Ida as it neared landfall in Louisiana in 2021. (CIRA/RAMMB)

The Biden administration has appointed Ken Graham, the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, to lead the National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced Tuesday.

Why it matters: The NWS is at the forefront of predicting and warning Americans about extreme weather events, many of which are becoming more intense and frequent in a warming world.

  • Also, this creates a vacancy at the Hurricane Center, only one week into what is forecast to be an unusually active Atlantic hurricane season.

Driving the news: Graham has led the Hurricane Center since 2018, including the 2020 season, which was the busiest on record. Prior to that appointment, he ran the NWS forecast office in New Orleans.

  • Jamie Rhome, the deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, will become the acting director until a permanent one is named, NOAA said. Michael Brennan, who leads the hurricane specialist unit, will move up to acting deputy director of the center for the 2022 hurricane season.
  • NOAA is forecasting between 14 to 21 named storms this hurricane season, six to 10 of which would become hurricanes, and three to six would intensify into major hurricanes of Category 3 or greater.
  • A typical Atlantic hurricane season has 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, according to the National Hurricane Center.

What they're saying: "I have full confidence that [Graham] will help create a more weather-and-climate-ready nation amid more extreme weather fueled by our changing climate," NOAA administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement.

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