A look back with Dr. Louis W. Uccellini

The former Weather Service director's federal career spanned 43 years

Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., served more than 40 years in the Federal government, including nearly nine as director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. In an expansive series of six oral history interviews conducted between June and October 2021, Dr. Uccellini reflected on the technical shifts, major weather events, and the people he worked with in a career that brought him from a focus on research to leading the world’s premiere weather service. Dr. Uccellini retired from Federal service at the beginning of 2022.

Louis W. Uccellini, former director of the U.S. National Weather Service
After working 50 years in meteorology, Louis W. Uccellini, Ph.D., former director of the National Weather Service, retired from public service on Jan. 2, 2022. (Doug Sanford Photographs)

Dr. Uccellini joined the National Weather Service in 1989 as chief of the Meteorological Operation Division. The agency was undergoing an unprecedented period of growth and transition known as the Modernization and Associated Restructuring era. Despite the massive upheaval of the time, his early years as chief of the Meteorological Operation Division provided him with tactical and strategic experience he would use for the rest of his career, which included serving as director of the NWS’ Office Meteorology, director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction -- an organization he led for 14 years -- and into his role as Director of the National Weather Service in 2013. 

Throughout his career, Uccellini guided the organizations he led through literal and metaphorical storms. From the March of 1993 “Storm of the Century” with its shockingly high snowfall totals, extreme coastal winds and flooding, and unseasonable cold snaps, to leadership challenges, Dr. Uccellini kept a steady hand on the helm.

Listen to excerpts from Dr. Uccellini's NOAA Voices interviews, recorded in 2021: