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COMMERCE SECRETARY AND NOAA ADMINISTRATOR ANNOUNCE NEW NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR
Bill Proenza to Succeed Max Mayfield

NOAA image of Bill Proenza at NOAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., who was named the new director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla.Dec. 6, 2006 Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez and NOAA officials, Undersecretary Conrad Lautenbacher and NOAA National Weather Service Director D.L. Johnson, today named Xavier William (Bill) Proenza to replace Max Mayfield as the director of its National Hurricane Center and two other divisions of the NOAA Tropical Prediction Center in Miami. Proenza will become the director upon Mayfield's retirement on January 3 after 34 years of federal service at the hurricane center. (Click NOAA image for larger view of Bill Proenza at NOAA headquarters in Washington, D.C., who was named the new director of the NOAA National Hurricane Center in Miami, Fla. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

News Conference Audio (mp3), National Press Club, Washington, D.C.
1) Scott Smullen, deputy director of, NOAA Public Affairs, introduces speakers. 0:48 4) Carlos Gutierrez opening statement. 2:25
2) David Johnson opening statement. 1:51 5) Bill Proenza opening statement. 5:43
3) Conrad Lautenbacher opening statement. 2:40 6) Max Mayfield opening statement. 2:20
News Conference Photos 6) Q & A 12:11

Proenza, long-time director of the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region, will be actively working with Mayfield this December handling post-season hurricane evaluations and conference preparation.

"Although Bill has big shoes to fill as America's calm and trusted voice in the eye of the storm, his experience and his ties to the emergency management community will be a national asset in preparing our coastlines from tropical weather threats," said Secretary Gutierrez.

"Bill directs warning and forecast services for the most active severe weather region in the United States, the Southern Region, where nearly 90 percent of our nation's hurricanes make landfall. He has made hurricane preparation and the local forecasting of flooding, tornadoes and high winds by our network of weather forecast offices his top priority," said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. "He is an effective and knowledgeable leader and well respected by our partners in emergency management and the media."

Proenza started his career with the NOAA National Weather Service at its National Hurricane Center and with NOAA's hurricane hunters in the mid '60s and went on to serve in a number of field, headquarters and leadership capacities across the nation. He has been director of the NOAA National Weather Service Southern Region since 1998. The Florida State University graduate is a long-standing member of the American Meteorological Society and the National Weather Association, and has held appointments in both professional agencies. In 2001, the AMS recognized him with its prestigious Francis W. Reichelderfer Award for outstanding environmental services to the nation. In 2003, Proenza was elected as an AMS Fellow.

"Bill was the natural choice for this position," said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of the NOAA National Weather Service. "His passion and enthusiasm to expand the nation's hurricane program, combined with his extensive experience in leadership and operational roles, will serve the nation well."

"I certainly look forward to working with the outstanding National Weather Service teams at the National Hurricane Center and the coastal Weather Forecast Offices across our nation," said Proenza. "While we were fortunate to have had a below-normal Atlantic Hurricane Season in 2006, with no land-falling hurricanes, we remain in an active hurricane period with its continued challenges to protect life and support the economic well being of the nation. Working closely with our many partners in the scientific community, emergency management and the media, I am confident we will meet those challenges and continue to advance the science of tracking and warning for devastating hurricanes and tropical storms."

The Tropical Prediction Center is part of the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction of the NOAA National Weather Service, and is home to three divisions, including the NOAA National Hurricane Center, which provides forecasts of the movement and strength of tropical weather systems and issues watches and warnings for the U.S. coastal and surrounding areas. The Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch provides support for satellite and radar analyses, and the Technical Support Branch supports the center's computer and communications systems while developing new techniques for tropical cyclone and tropical weather analysis and prediction.

In 2007 NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, celebrates 200 years of science and service to the nation. Starting with the establishment of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. The agency is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of the nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA National Hurricane Center

NOAA Hurricanes Portal

Bill Proenza Biography (PDF)

Media Contact:
Scott Smullen, NOAA, (202) 482-6090 or Greg Romano, NOAA National Weather Service, (301) 713-0622