NOAA 03-R264
Contact: Keli Tarp
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Jim Belville, director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) NEXRAD Radar Operations Center (ROC) in Norman, Okla., will retire this month, completing 34 years of distinguished federal service. NOAA is an agency of the Commerce Department.

Belville grew up in Texas City, Texas, developing an intense interest in the weather at an early age. He realized his dream to become a meteorologist by graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in meteorology in January 1969. He started his career with the National Weather Service (NOAA National Weather Service) as a meteorological intern in Austin, Texas later that month.

Belville’s subsequent assignments took him to Lubbock, Texas as a hydrologist/meterologist (1972-1982); Slidell, La. as a meteorologist/preparedness focal point (1982-1985); the Washington, D.C. area as the meteorologist in charge of the Sterling, Va. Weather Forecast Office (1985-1995); and finally Norman, Okla. where he was assigned as the director of the Radar Operations Center (1995-2003).

NOAA National Weather Service Deputy Director John Jones said, “Jim has been an extremely effective manager at the ROC during a very complex technological modernization. His leadership of the ROC throughout the testing and integration of the NEXRAD Radars into our operations was critical to the success of our $4.5 billion modernization program.”

Belville participated in a variety of projects during his tenure in the NOAA National Weather Service. In 1985, he led a delegation of rainfall experts who visited the Peoples Republic of China for three weeks as a part of a scientific exchange between the two countries. His work with China spanned a period of 10 years.

As the meteorologist in charge of the weather forecast office serving the nation’s capital, Belville and his staff provided support to many White House activities including three Presidential Inaugurations and visits by Mikhail Gorbachev and Queen Elizabeth.

Belville was also frequently in the media spotlight during the NOAA National Weather Service modernization program. Belville appeared on Larry King Live, Good Morning America, The Today Show, CBS Late Night, 20/20, and Dateline as a NOAA National Weather Service spokesman. A career highlight for Belville was spending a Saturday afternoon with Walter Cronkite discussing the NOAA National Weather Service modernization and its impact on the sailing community.

Under his leadership, the Radar Operations Center (ROC) has provided the highest possible levels of support to the worldwide radar network used by the departments of Commerce, Defense, and Transportation. The ROC has provided many system modifications which have made the radar much more reliable and easier to maintain. The organization has continually infused new science into the radar and continues to do so every six months. Under his leadership the staff at the ROC has been recognized on many occasions, receiving numerous awards.

Over his career, Belville has been active in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) and other groups in the scientific community. He was elected Fellow of the AMS in 1992. He served on the AMS Committee on Hydrology from 1984 to 1988 and was chairman of that committee for two years. He was a member of the Committee of Fellows and is presently a member of the AMS Radar Committee. Belville has been a speaker at many conferences and meetings including the American Geophysical Union, American Water Resource Association, National Hazards Workshops, Flood Plain Management Groups, and numerous state and local emergency management organizations.

Belville has been recognized for his outstanding contributions to the NOAA National Weather Service. His most notable awards include the Department of Commerce Silver Medal, the AMS Riechelderfer Award, and the NOAA Administrator’s Award.

Established in 1987, the NEXRAD Radar Operations Center (ROC) provides centralized meteorological, computer software, maintenance, and engineering support for all 158 NEXRAD (WSR-88D) radar systems deployed worldwide. Supported by the Departments of Commerce, Transportation and Defense, the ROC is responsible for modifying and enhancing the WSR-88D systems during their operational life to meet changing requirements, technology advances and improved understanding of the application of these systems to real-time weather operations. The ROC also operates WSR-88D test systems for the development of hardware and software upgrades to enhance maintenance, operation and provide new functionality. The facility houses a 24-hour, seven days a week help desk that assists radar sites with technical support more than 12,000 times each year.

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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