Bill Read, KPRC 2 Hurricane Expert, has had a lifetime of following tropical storms and hurricanes. Bill's goal is to bring that lifetime of professional experience to our viewers so they can be best prepared and take the right actions when tropical storms come our way.
In spite of over 40 years living on the Gulf or Florida coasts, the strongest winds he personally experienced was 1954’s Hurricane Hazel as it passed through Delaware, where he grew up. Hazel and the big Nor’easters that happen on the east coast spurred Bill to pursue an education in the science of weather. After earning a BS in Meteorology from Texas A&M in 1971, Bill served in the U.S. Navy, where once again he came face to face with hurricanes – flying into the storms with the Navy Hurricane Hunters out of Jacksonville, Fla. After four years in the Navy, Bill attended graduate school, earning the MS in Meteorology at A&M in 1976.
Bill then pursued a 35-year career with the National Weather Service, starting out forecasting weather in San Antonio and Fort Worth before making the leap into management. Bill’s longest tenure was right here in the Houston area, where he was in charge of the National Weather Service Forecast Office located in League City for over 15 years. In addition to the tornadoes, floods and tropical storms, we saw a lot of changes during that 15 year period, from Doppler radar to the Internet. In 2007, he was given the awesome opportunity to serve at the National Hurricane Center in Miami, and became director of the center in January 2008, retiring there in June 2012.
While he worked over 130 tropical storms during his NWS career, Bill says a few will always stand out as most memorable. Folks here in Houston can relate to Allison, Rita and Ike. Bill adds Katrina, when he was assigned to the Hurricane Center to assist in the warning process; Allen (1980), Claudette (1979) and Amelia (1978). While at the National Hurricane Center, he had the opportunity to personally brief President George W. Bush during Hurricanes Gustav and Ike, and President Barack Obama during Hurricane Irene.
Bill serves on the Texas A&M College of Geosciences Dean’s Advisory Council and as a Leadership Partner with the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH). He is also involved with professional societies, having served as president of the National Weather Association in 2003 and as councilor with the American Meteorological Society. He was elected fellow by the Society in 2011. Among the many awards he has received, a Special Award for Public Education from the National Hurricane Conference fits Bill’s passion the best.
Bill has been married to his wife, Donna, since 1976 and they have a son, Jonathan, who also calls the Houston area home.