Kenneth Graham becomes next director of the National Weather Service
Graham served as the National Hurricane Center Director and has been with the NWS for nearly 30 years
WASHINGTON - National Hurricane Center Director Kenneth Graham has been selected to be the next director of the National Weather Service.
FOX Weather was the first news organization to speak with Graham after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced his appointment to discuss what the future has in store for the NWS.
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"Throughout my entire career, I've been pretty consistent in being about service," he said. "It's about the mission. It's about talking with you all and giving you all the tools to be able to get the information out to the public, so they can make those big decisions."
Graham has been the director of the National Hurricane Center since 2018 and has worked his way up the ranks at the NWS for nearly 30 years. He said he's excited to work with meteorologists across the country, like the FOX Weather team, to share that critical forecasting information.
He said one of his primary focuses would be on the NWS workforce.
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"Because if we focus on the workforce, we can make sure the mission's intact and strong throughout the weather service and across NOAA," Graham said. "We're going to be looking at the infrastructure to make sure it's strong to support those new initiatives that we'll be looking at in the future."
For Graham, using weather science and making it actionable has always been a priority.
'We can’t stop that extreme weather. So, it's about having the tools to be prepared.' - Ken Graham, National Weather Service director
"Consistency matters. Where you really got to look at not just the accuracy, but the consistency of that forecast because it's tough to make a decision on information that's flip-flopping," Graham said of the data.
With hurricane season now underway and coming off two very busy previous seasons, Graham said there would be some new tools for forecasters, including storm surge mapping and using social science to communicate severe weather better.
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Graham said he is concerned about storm fatigue and said he would continue to stress the importance of being prepared when severe weather strikes.
"There are so many disasters," he said. "Look at the amount of floods and fires and the hurricane seasons. And we've dealt with so many disasters. And to the general public, it does become exhausting. But we continuously talk about being prepared. Know your risk. We can't stop that extreme weather. So, it's about having the tools to be prepared. Listening to the latest forecasts. Listening to the latest information when it comes to those warnings. That's what it's all about. It's knowing that risk and being prepared for that risk."
Graham takes the helm of the NWS after the previous director, Louis Uccellini, retired on January 1 after a more than 30-year career at the NWS.
"On the eve of my retirement, I can say that I’m leaving the Weather Service in a better place than I found it," Uccellini said before his retirement.
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He highlighted the modernization and streamlining of the agency’s budgeting and hiring processes and the reduction in weather-related casualties.
The agency has also increased staffing to levels not seen since 2015, according to Uccellini. He said 150 staff have been added since 2017 alone.