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March-April 2012

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On the Job: Jack Hayes

Director of the National Weather Service

John L. “Jack” Hayes is the Director of the NWS. He began his career as an Air Force Weather Officer and later became the Commander of the Air Force Weather Agency and the director of the World Weather Watch Department at the World Meteorological Organization. In December 2011, partly in response to the devastating outbreak of tornadoes last spring, Hayes initiated a national dialogue of more than 100 leaders and stakeholders to develop a plan for improving the nation's resiliency against severe weather.

The NWS strategic plan calls for the building of a “weather-ready nation.” What does that mean, and how far along are we toward that goal?

First, I'm really proud of where the profession has come, but the number of avoidable deaths and damage due to extreme weather is still far too high. In 2011 alone, we had over 1,000 people perish in extreme weather, and there were 12 weather disasters that each cost the nation a billion dollars in damage with over 52 billion dollars in aggregate costs.

KIMBRA CUTLIP is a freelance writer and former assistant editor for Weatherwise.

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