A Columbia resident has been named the 16th director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Weather Service, the organization announced Thursday.
Louis W. Uccellini, 63, will become director on Sunday, Feb. 10, according to a news release, and will also become the next assistant NOAA administrator for weather services.
"It's an honor to lead such a prestigious agency with the unbeatable mission of protecting lives and livelihoods," Uccellini said in a statement. "The past year had its success stories. ... but difficulties remain. Our eyes remain locked on the future to ensure a National Weather Service that is second to none and supports a weather-ready nation."
Uccellini, a resident of Oakland Mills since 1978, has served as the leader of the National Weather Service's National Centers for Environmental Prediction. Before that, Uccellini worked at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Laboratory for Atmosphere and in the NWS' office of Meteorology.
Uccellini, a native of Bethpage, N.Y., has lived in the Steven's Forest neighborhood of Oakland Mills with his wife and three children. After earning his Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Uccellini said he and his wife moved to Columbia after hearing about Jim Rouse's plan for the new community.
"We had heard about (Jim Rouse) before we moved here, and to be part of that growth phase, it was exciting being here," said Uccellini.
While his children were growing up in the 1980s, Uccellini said he was known around the neighborhood for his interest in snow, and would guide neighborhood children on nature walks during snow storms.
"We always had neighborhood kids show up at our door to take snow walks," Uccellini said.
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Uccellini, who co-authored a two-volume book entitled "Northeast Snowstorms," said he finds it ironic that this announcement comes days before the weather service is predicting a potentially historic storm to hit the northeastern United States.
"We are watching it very carefully," Uccellini said.
Ever since moving to the area, Uccellini said he's received inquires from community members asking for weather forecasts.
"I don't mind," Uccellini said. "They always seem to remember the ones I'm wrong on, but it comes with the territory."
Acting director of the National Weather Service, Laura K. Furgione, will return as the agency's deputy director, according to the release.
"Louis has always placed a priority on providing forecast tools to help field offices and national centers be successful. I'm proud to work by his side as we continue supporting our nation-wide team," said Furgione.