Dr. Rick Knabb named Hurricane Center director

By Max Mayfield, Hurricane Specialist, mmayfield@Local10.com
Published On: May 18 2012 03:57:56 PM EDT
Updated On: May 18 2012 04:24:23 PM EDT

Courtesy: NOAA

MIAMI -

Dr. Richard "Rick" Knabb has been selected as the next Director of the National Hurricane Center.

In my opinion, Rick is the indeed the one individual who stands out as best qualified person for that prestigious position.

The decision of choosing the best qualified candidate was very important, but our Nation’s Hurricane Program has never been about any individual person.  As FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate likes to say, the Hurricane Program is very much a team sport and not an individual sport.  Rick understands that it is not just the forecast that comes from the NHC that counts.  He knows that all the observations from various platforms, data assimilation, computer models from the worldwide modeling centers, input from the Hydro-meteorological Prediction Center on rainfall, input from the Storm Prediction Center on tornadoes, input from the River Forecast Centers on river flooding, and very importantly the input from the local Weather Forecast Offices are critical to the team effort.  Rick has also demonstrated a thorough understanding that emergency managers at the local, state and Federal levels as well as the media are absolutely essential members of the Hurricane Program team and he treats them as valued team members.  Rick has consistently demonstrated that he is a true “team player.” 

I have been asked several times for my most memorable moments while NHC Director.  One of those moments was when Rick Knabb was hired early in my tenure as Director.  Rick never disappointed me.  He always gave his very best effort in every task while he was NHC’s Science and Operations Officer, a key leader in the Joint Hurricane Testbed, Senior Hurricane Specialist, and one of the primary NHC television spokespersons during major hurricane landfall events.  Rick’s significant contributions are too numerous to mention, but he has more than proven himself in my mind by preparing a few hundred official NHC tropical cyclone forecast packages including those on the significant landfalling hurricanes during the record-setting 2005 Atlantic season, conducting dozens of critical briefings to emergency managers at all levels of government, excelling at guiding the successful implementation of several research products into operations and providing well-received training on these products including the tropical cyclone wind speed probability products, leading the highly acclaimed FEMA/NOAA Introduction to Hurricane Preparedness courses, participating in and documenting post-landfall surveys with me after Hurricanes Charley and Katrina, and writing the official NHC tropical cyclone reports on Katrina and Rita (among others) that will be referenced for decades to come.

Rick’s time as Deputy Director at the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and as the extremely popular on-camera hurricane expert on The Weather Channel only adds to his distinguished resume.

NOAA’s leadership in moving toward a Weather-Ready Nation is critical.  We cannot focus solely on improving the forecast.  In the Hurricane Program, land use, building codes, communication, education and other issues are at times as important as a good forecast.  Rick Knabb has demonstrated a thorough understanding of all these pieces of the puzzle.  Our Nation will be extremely well served with Dr. Rick Knabb as the next NHC Director.

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