Image: Bill Proenza
Wilfredo Lee  /  AP file
National Hurricane Center Director Bill Proenza lost the support of employees who said he was undermining the public's confidence in forecasters' abilities.
updated 7/9/2007 4:54:31 PM ET 2007-07-09T20:54:31

The director of the National Hurricane Center was temporarily reassigned Monday, four days after many of the center’s employees called for his removal because of his comments about an aging weather satellite.

More than 20 of Bill Proenza’s nearly 50 staff members signed a statement last week urging federal officials to dismiss him. They said Proenza undermined the public’s confidence in the center by exaggerating the forecasting problems scientists would face if the satellite failed.

Proenza insisted he was only trying to ensure that his forecasters had the best tools and adequate support.

Deputy Director Ed Rappaport was to assume Proenza’s duties on an interim basis, center spokesman Dennis Feltgen said.

“The staff is very focused on the 2007 Atlantic hurricane season and everybody’s ready to move forward,” Feltgen said.

Anson Franklin, a spokesman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the center, said Proenza is still a NOAA employee, but he would not provide details about his status, citing privacy laws.

Proenza assumed the job in January, replacing longtime director Max Mayfield.

Rappaport declined to comment on his appointment. In November, he took himself out of the running to replace Mayfield, saying he could not make the commitment for personal reasons.

Rappaport has been with the hurricane center since 1987. He was appointed deputy director in 2000.

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