Kenneth Graham has been named as NOAA’s next assistant administrator for weather services and the 17th director of the National Weather Service.
Graham has served as the director of the National Hurricane Center since April 2018, leading the USA through numerous hurricanes, including 30 named storms during the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season. He has a vast amount of operational field experience, working his way up through the ranks at NWS, mostly in field offices, starting out as an intern meteorologist in 1994 at the New Orleans/Baton Rouge weather forecast office.
Rick Spinrad, NOAA administrator, said, “Ken has the scientific integrity, trusted leadership and communication prowess that will take the National Weather Service to even greater heights. I have full confidence that he will help create a more weather- and climate-ready nation amid more extreme weather fueled by our changing climate.”
Commenting on his appointment, Graham said, “What an incredible honor it is to serve alongside the heroes of the National Weather Service whose excellence shines through day after day. I thank Dr Spinrad for entrusting me with the awesome responsibility and privilege of leading this dedicated team at such an exciting and important time in our history. We’ll accomplish great things together by building on recent progress and prioritizing support of our forecasters. I can’t wait to get started.”
Before joining the National Hurricane Center, Graham served as the meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS’s New Orleans/Baton Rouge office for 10 years. He notably established two command centers in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010 that provided forecasts to help authorities make critical decisions in the five months following the spill. Graham also led the effort to support decision makers in Louisiana and Mississippi with services focused on expected impacts for hurricanes Gustav, Ike and Isaac, and during the historic 2017 season.
Prior to leading the New Orleans/Baton Rouge forecast office, Graham served as the systems operations division chief at NWS’s Southern Region headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas, where he led Hurricane Katrina recovery efforts. He also served as the meteorological service chief at NWS headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, and was the meteorologist-in-charge at the local forecast offices in Birmingham, Alabama and Corpus Christi, Texas.
Graham earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in geoscience from Mississippi State University. He was recently named the 2022 Weatherperson of the Year by the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes. Graham is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers.
Mary C Erickson, who has served as acting director of the National Weather Service since January, will resume her position as the agency’s deputy director. “Ken is highly respected across the agency as an inspirational leader, tireless builder of trusted partnerships, and consummate champion of the workforce. We look forward to welcoming him back to National Weather Service headquarters, where he will undoubtedly excel in leading the agency into a bright future,” said Erickson.
Jamie Rhome, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, will assume the role of acting director until a permanent director is named. Rhome has served in a variety of roles at the Hurricane Center since 1999, from forecaster to hurricane and storm surge specialist.