Doyle Rice, USA TODAY Louis Uccellini will be the new director of the National Weather Service, effective Sunday. Uccellini, 63, has been with the weather service since 1989, most recently as the director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction in College Park, Md. He will be the 16th director of the weather service, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). He was the president of the American Meteorological Society and the author of more than 60 journal articles and chapters in books. He literally wrote the book about blizzards as the co-author of the two-volume book Northeast Snowstorms. Uccellini replaces acting director Laura Furgione, who served since May. She replaced Jack Hayes, who was director from 2007 until last May. Hayes retired after an internal investigation found that agency staff improperly moved money among different accounts without congressional authorization. Furgione will return to her position as weather service deputy director. Uccellini becomes director at a challenging time for the agency, dealing with budget issues that could hamper efforts to improve such critical needs as weather satellites and weather prediction models. In a telephone interview Wednesday, Uccellini stressed the importance of maintaining transparency in budget issues. He agreed with concerns within the meteorological community about the state of the top U.S. weather prediction model (the GFS), saying he will be "moving aggressively" toward its improvement. "It's an honor to lead such a prestigious agency with the unbeatable mission of protecting lives and livelihoods," Uccellini said. "The past year had its success stories with superior outlooks, forecasts and warnings, including those for Sandy, 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."
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