Proenza out as Director of National Hurricane Center???

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Embattled National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza caught by our cameras during happier times.

Loyal readers know that in very early May 2007, Pete interviewed Bill Proenza, who has been the Director the National Hurricane Center since January. In May, Proenza was in New Jersey on an East Coast public relations tour, displaying a Hurricane Hunter aircraft. At the time, everything seemed fine. Now however, it is highly likely that Proenza’s days are numbered as the NHC Director. The relationship between Proenza and his staff is being described as a “mutiny” and an “insurrection” by the Miami Herald, at the pulse of the story. According to stories that have made national headlines, nearly the entire staff of senior forecasters at the National Hurricane Center have signed a document calling for the removal of Proenza. On the list calling for Proenza’s ouster is Senior Forecaster Dr. Richard Knabb, who our cameras also captured at the Cape May County airport on May 1st. (The Proenza/Knabb relationship is so strained it is said, that they no longer communicate face to face, but rather by email, according to published reports.) Also signing the petition for Proenza’s ouster were senior forecasters Lixion Avila, James Franklin, and Richard Pasch. (The fifth senior forecaster, Jack Beven, was on vacation when the petition was signed). Many other lesser NHC employees signed the document as well, including Proenza’s own secretary. According to insiders, Proenza is described as demanding, difficult to work with, and verbally abusive to staff. On July 2nd, a NOAA inspection team came to the NHC to perform a snap inspection. Many believe this is being done to get ammunition to remove Proenza from the job, and all indications are that this will soon happen. Several other incidents have been cited for the inspection. Since his time at the NHC, Proenza has been critical of NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, the parent of the NHC. Proenza was critical of the budget given to the NHC, and criticized NOAA for wasting money. More recently, Proenza has criticized NOAA for not replacing the QuikScat satellite, which is out-of-date. Deployed in 1999, the QuikScat measures winds in storms that are too far away to be inspected directly by a NOAA Hurricane Hunter. In his remarks, Proenza said that NHC forecasts would become less accurate should QuikScat suddenly quit. This insinuation has not been taken lightly by the NHC forecasters, who say its not true. Although some said that Proenza meant no harm, they also said his comments damaged the reputation of the forecasters, who are given much public trust. As a coastal community, Seaside Heights has to be very concerned about the situation at the National Hurricane Center as the 2007 hurricane season approaches it peak in August and September. NOAA and other prominent forecasters have said conditions are ripe this year for an active season with patterns similar to those that brought us the well-remembered hurricanes of the 1930’s, 40’s & 50’s.

HERE IS THE ACTUAL STATEMENT ISSUED BY THE STAFF OF THE NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER….

An unfortunate public debate is now occurring over the ability of the National Hurricane
Center to meet its mission. The undersigned staff of the National Hurricane Center has
concluded that the center needs a new Director, and with the heart of the hurricane season
fast approaching, urges the Department of Commerce to make this happen as quickly as
possible. The effective functioning of the National Hurricane Center is at stake. The staff
of the National Hurricane Center would like nothing more than to return its focus to its
primary mission of protecting life and property from hazardous tropical weather, and
leave the political arena it now finds itself in.

Dr. Lixion Avila, Senior Hurricane Specialist
Dr. Stephen Baig, Oceanographer
Wally Barnes, Meteorologist
Robert Berg, Meteorologist
Eric Blake, Hurricane Specialist
Daniel Brown, Hurricane Specialist
John Cangialosi, Meteorologist
Hugh Cobb, Meteorologist
James Franklin, Senior Hurricane Specialist
Ethan Gibney, GIS Specialist
Petra Gonzalez, Administrative Support
Vivian Jorge, Administrative Officer
Dr. Richard Knabb, Senior Hurricane Specialist
Alison Krautkramer, Computer Scientist
Salim Leyva, Supervisory IT Specialist
Michelle Mainelli, Hurricane Specialist
Evangelina Maruly, Secretary to the Director
Martin C. Nelson, Meteorologist
Dr. Richard Pasch, Senior Hurricane Specialist
Gladys Rubio, Meteorologist
Chris Sisko, Meteorologist/Computer Scientist
Dr. Ahsha Tribble, Executive Officer
Patricia Wallace, Meteorologist
5 July 2007
Note: Some NHC staff did not have an opportunity to either accept or decline to support
this statement.

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National Hurricane Center Senior Forecaster Dr. Richard Knabb is one of the four Senior Forecasters to sign the petition calling for the removal of NHC Director Bill Proenza.

CLICK THE ARROW BELOW FOR A RE-RUN OF PETE’S HURRICANE HUNTER VIDEO FROM youtube.com, WHICH FEATURES BOTH EMBATTLED NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER DIRECTOR BILL PROENZA, AND SENIOR FORECASTER RICHARD KNABB:

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