A Columbia resident for over 30 years has been named the new director of the National Weather Service.
Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, 63, who said he moved into his current house in Oakland Mills in August 1978, was selected as the 16th director of the National Weather Service, which this year marked its 143rd anniversary predicting and keeping records of weather. Uccellini will officially take the helm of the National Weather Service on Feb. 10.
"I'm excited to get going, to lead this agency and to move it forward" said Uccellini, in an interview with Patch.
In a statement released by NWS Uccellini said, “It’s an honor to lead such a prestigious agency with the unbeatable mission of protecting lives and livelihood. 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."
Uccellini said that he will continue to live in Columbia as NWS Director.
"We have no plans on moving, my wife works in Columbia and we like it where we're at," said Uccellini.
He said that when his three kids, Anthony, Francesca and Dominic, were growing up in Columbia that his forecasts were popular during sporting events.
"I not only had to deal with children on the team, but the parents, teachers, who were asking me for forecasts, hoping that school would be canceled," said Uccellini. "Also, I dealt with times when forecasts didn't lead up to their expectations."
"My neighbors know what I do," added Uccellini, "and we do talk about the weather a lot."
Uccellini began his carreer working at the Goddard Space Flight Center's Laboratory for Atmospheres in 1978 and later joined NWS in 1989 as the chief of the Meteorological Operations Division, according to NWS.
Uccellini received his bachelor's, master's and PHD from the University of Wisconsin.
He is the co-author of a widely acclaimed book called Northeast Snowstorms that details the impact of historic snowstorms.
He weighed in on the snowstorm predicted to hit parts of the Northeast starting on Friday.
He said from northern New Jersey to New England will likely "be in for a major event that will rank up there with some of the top storms"
"Not only the heavy snow," said Uccellini, "there will be parts of eastern New England that get over two feet of snow, but also strong winds could approach hurricane force winds along the coast."
As for Howard County's dismal snowfall numbers over the past two years, Uccellini said, "it's been disappointing."
"One of the things we emphasize up front when you look at season snowfall is it's really episodic," Uccellini said. "[Storms] come in bunches. You can go several years without much of a snow event, then get a year when you get two or three storms."
Patch Interview: Michael Chabon on Columbia