NOAA 2000-239
Contact: Frank Lepore


Max Mayfield, a long-time hurricane forecaster, today was named the new director of the National Weather Service's National Hurricane Center. Mayfield will oversee a team of hurricane forecasters, specialists and technical personnel at the center's headquarters in Miami.

At a press conference in Washington to announce the 2000 Atlantic hurricane season outlook, D. James Baker, administrator of NOAA, introduced Mayfield as "a leader with confidence among his peers, emergency managers and the media."

Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Jack Kelly, director of the National Weather Service, said Mayfield possesses the unique qualities vital to lead the center. "He knows every link in the critical process of hurricane predictions. He understands the science of hurricanes and the science of communicating the threat of hurricanes, which will help communities in danger of a land-falling storm take necessary safety precautions."

Kelly added, "Max typifies the weather forecasters of our country who work around the clock to keep people safe."

Mayfield, who has been the acting director since December 1999, when the former director Jerry Jarrell retired, began his forecasting career with the Air Force in 1970 after graduating from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in mathematics. In 1972, Mayfield joined the National Weather Service as a satellite meteorologist in Miami.

The Oklahoma native earned his master's degree in meteorology at Florida State University in 1987, and then became a hurricane specialist. Since 1988, Mayfield has written half of the Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific annual hurricane summaries, published in Monthly Weather Review and Weatherwise.

In 1996, Mayfield, a favorite among emergency managers in hurricane-prone regions, was awarded the Francis W. Reichelderfer Award from the American Meteorological Society for exemplary performance as coordinator of the center's hurricane preparedness presentations to emergency managers and the general public.

Mayfield said his goal is to help improve the warning lead times and increase the center's understanding of the tracks and intensity of hurricanes.

He is married and has three children.