NOAA 2003-R601
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NOAA News Releases 2003
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Don Burgess, chief of the Warning Research and Development Division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) in Norman, Okla., will retire this month, completing 30 years of distinguished federal service. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

Burgess was involved in the early development of Doppler weather radar technology, and has been recognized for his contributions to research, development, user training and operational implementation of the NEXRAD Doppler weather radar.

“More than any other individual, Don pioneered the discovery of valuable information in Doppler radar data for use in operational meteorology,” said James Kimpel, director of the National Severe Storms Laboratory. “His work has led to substantial improvement in NOAA National Weather Service severe storm and tornado warning performance measures and training thousands of meteorologists in both the public and private sectors.”

A native of Okmulgee, Okla., Burgess earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Oklahoma (OU). He was a research associate at the OU Research Institute from 1970 to 1972. He began his federal career as a research meteorologist in the Doppler Radar Group at NSSL in 1972. From 1976 to 1979, he was chief meteorologist of the Joint Doppler Operational Project (JDOP). He served as research meteorologist with the Meteorology Research Group from 1980 to 1986 and manager of the Forecast Applications Research Group from 1987 to 1991.

Don moved to the NEXRAD Operational Support Facility in Norman, now known as the Radar Operations Center, serving as chief of the Operations Branch from 1991 to 1995, and then chief of the Operations Training Branch. In 2000, he moved back to NSSL to lead the Warning Research and Development Division.

Over his career, Burgess has been active in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and the National Weather Association (NWA). He was elected fellow of the AMS in 1993, and served as NWA National Secretary in 1989. Burgess served on many graduate student committees in the OU School of Meteorology from 1990 to 2000, and was appointed an Adjunct Professor in 2000. He is currently a member of the COMET Advisory Panel, which he joined in 1996, and a Fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies since 1998. He was co-chairman of the Tornado Symposium III in 1991. Burgess has more than 150 publications in formal meteorological journals and conference preprints.

Burgess’s honors and awards include the NOAA Special Achievement Award, 1976; Environmental Research Laboratories Outstanding Paper Award, 1979; Dept. of Commerce Silver Medal Award, 1979; NOAA Superior Accomplishment Award, 1979; National Society of Professional Engineers Outstanding Paper Award, 1980; Dept. of Commerce Distinguished Authorship Award, 1987; and Dept. of Commerce Award for Unusually Outstanding Performance, 1994 and 1999.

Upon his retirement from federal service, Burgess will join the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at the University of Oklahoma on a part-time basis. He plans to return to his long-time scientific interest of radar data analysis, collaborating with several Oklahoma Weather Center units, OU graduate students and outside organizations like COMET. He will continue to work out of an office at NSSL.

The National Severe Storms Laboratory leads the way in investigations of all aspects of severe and hazardous weather. NSSL is part of NOAA Research and the only federally-supported laboratory focused on severe weather. The Lab’s scientists and staff explore new ways to improve understanding of the causes of severe weather and ways to use weather information to assist National Weather Service forecasters, as well as federal, university and private sector partners. NSSL was established in 1964.

The Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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