Posted: 3:04 pm Saturday, January 14th, 2012
By Eliot Kleinberg
Posted 2 p.m. Jan. 14, 2012
National Hurricane Center director Bill Read, who inherited an agency going through its own political cyclone, has steered his last storm season.
Read, the center’s 10th director in its nearly half-century but the fourth in a turbulent 1-1/2-year period, announced his retirement Saturday. He said the search for a new director will start right away, with the goal to have one in place by the time he leaves June 1, the start of the hurricane season.
Proenza had prompted both praise and scrutiny after complaining that the National Weather Service was spending millions on an agency-wide birthday celebration and had no firm plans to replace the aging QuikSCAT satellite.
But hurricane center forecasters also had complained about Proenza’s management style and said he’d alienated the staff.
Read said Saturday about the director’s spot, arguably the federal government’s most high-profile weather post: “I had no idea I would ever be considered for such an honor. It’s been quite a ride and I’m blessed to hit the exit ramp in my career after working with you all.”
Read said that when he took the jobt, he intended to work no more than five years. He said June 1 will mark a little less than 4-1/2.
He said he picked June 1 to leave because he wanted to pursue some part-time opportunities that will become available this summer and that ”I’ve done pretty much all I set out to do in this 40 year adventure.”
And, he said, “I believe it would be a better transition for a new director to first work the hurricane season, then tackle the important off-season activities armed with the season’s experience.”
Read’s boss, National Weather Service director Jack Hayes, said Read’s departure “leaves a noticeable void to fill and gives us this moment to reflect and be thankful for his illustrious 40-year career that has provided great service to our country.
National Hurricane Center chiefs:
Gordon Dunn, 1965-67
Robert Simpson, 1967-73
Neil Frank, 1973-87
Bob Sheets, 1987-95
Robert Burpee, 1995-97
Jerry Jarrell, 1998-2000
Max Mayfield, 2000-07
Bill Proenza, January-July, 2007
Ed Rappaport (interim), July 2007-January 2008
Bill Read, 2008-2012