Kenneth Graham is the next NOAA assistant administrator for weather services and the 17th director of the National Weather Service, effective today.
“Ken has the scientific integrity, trusted leadership, and communication prowess that will take the National Weather Service to even greater heights,” said NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad, Ph.D. “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.”
“What an incredible honor it is to serve alongside the heroes of the National Weather Service whose excellence shines through day after day,” said Graham. “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.”
Since April 2018, Graham has served as the director of the National Hurricane Center, leading the nation through numerous hurricanes, including 30 named storms during the record-breaking 2020 hurricane season. His tireless energy to build effective partnerships at all levels of government and his close work with emergency managers underpin the nation’s preparedness ahead of hazardous weather.
Graham has a vast amount of operational field experience. He worked 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.
Before joining the National Hurricane Center, Graham served as the meteorologist-in-charge of the NWS’ 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, 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’ 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 and was a 2021 finalist for the Partnership for Public Service’s Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal. Graham is a member of the American Meteorological Society, the National Weather Association and the International Association of Emergency Managers.
A native of Phoenix, Graham and his wife, Laura, have three daughters.
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. Michael Brennan, Ph.D., branch chief of the hurricane specialist unit, will serve as the acting deputy director of the Center for the coming hurricane season.
NOAA’s National Weather Service provides weather, water and climate data, forecasts, warnings, and impact-based decision support services for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy. In partnership with national and local government, the weather enterprise, Weather-Ready Nation Ambassadors, and academia, the National Weather Service is working to build a more Weather-Ready Nation to support community resilience in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather amid a changing climate.