MIAMI – The director of the National Hurricane Center is leaving his post to take a job with The Weather Channel.
Dr. Rick Knabb and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made the announcement Tuesday. His last day with the National Hurricane Center is May 12. He will begin his new position in Atlanta on May 15.
"I will forever be grateful to the entire staff of talented public servants at the National Hurricane Center for their dedication, professionalism and teamwork," Knabb said in a statement. "They will continue to accomplish great things together with our many colleagues throughout the National Weather Service and NOAA, and with our diverse partners in emergency management, disaster safety, media, academia and the international community. I am moving on to a new and exciting opportunity that will not only allow me to spend less time traveling and more time at home with family, but extensive time in the studio at The Weather Channel focusing on hurricane and disaster safety communication that has become my greatest passion."
Knabb took over for Bill Read in 2012.
Before leading the National Hurricane Center, Knabb worked for The Weather Channel as a hurricane expert and tropical science program manager.
Knabb is the fourth director of the National Hurricane Center since Max Mayfield retired in January 2007. Mayfield now serves as hurricane specialist for Local 10 News.
"I remember very well when I hired Rick Knabb when I was the director of the National Hurricane Center," Mayfield told Local10.com. "It was one of the smartest things I ever did."
Mayfield said he often joked to others in the office about Knabb's innate knowledge of hurricanes.
"I would tell people, 'Be careful of that guy. He's going to be a boss someday,'" Mayfield recalled.
Mayfield said Knabb has "done a superb job" in his five years at the helm of the National Hurricane Center.
Knabb stayed busy during the 2016 Atlantic hurricane season, the most active since 2012. There were 15 named storms, including seven hurricanes, four of which were Category 3 or higher.
Hurricane Hermine became the first hurricane to make landfall in Florida since Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
"The country has just been very well-served by Rick in that position," Mayfield said.
Knabb earned a bachelor's degree in atmospheric science from Purdue University and a master's degree in meteorology from Florida State University. He also earned a doctorate in meteorology from FSU.
Ed Rappaport, deputy director of the National Hurricane Center, will serve as acting director until a permanent replacement is named. Rappaport has been with the National Hurricane Center since 1987.