Mike Brennan. Courtesy of NOAA.
Mike Brennan. Courtesy of NOAA.

Mike Brennan, who grew up in the Roanoke Valley and graduated from Cave Spring High School in Roanoke County, has assumed one of the highest profile positions in weather at the national level, being named director of the National Hurricane Center.

“The NHC director is one of the most visible and important jobs in the nation, and Mike possesses the right combination of experience, leadership and personal traits to prepare and guide us through major storms,” said Rick Spinrad, NOAA administrator, in a statement.

The NHC director is often featured by national television networks discussing ongoing or developing hurricanes.

In a 2019 interview for The Roanoke Times with weather journalist Kevin Myatt – now with Cardinal News – Brennan said it was the deadly November 1985 flooding caused by remnants of Hurricane Juan and the inland effects in Southwest Virginia of Hurricane Hugo in 1989 that started his interest in weather and its adverse effects.

“My grandmother, who lived in the Salem Village mobile home park behind GE, lost her home in the November 1985 flood, and my dad ended up having to rescue her from her home and wading out in waist-deep water,” Brennan was quoted in The Roanoke Times. “I was 7 years old at the time and that made a big impression on me, showing how weather can affect people’s lives.”

Brennan has spent nearly all of his 15-year NOAA career at NHC, and for the past year has served as the acting NHC deputy director. Since 2018, Brennan has been the branch chief of the Hurricane Specialist Unit. During this period, he supervised one of NOAA’s highest profile operational forecast units through 18 U.S. landfalling hurricanes — including eight major hurricanes — and more than 20 U.S. tropical storm landfalls.

Brennan, who has bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in atmospheric science from North Carolina State, began his NHC career in 2008 as a senior hurricane specialist for 10 years, following a year as the science and operations officer for the Weather Prediction Center.

His educational path in meteorology began with coursework at Virginia Western Community College in Roanoke before entering North Carolina State.

“I am honored and humbled to work with the talented staff at the National Hurricane Center at a time when we are making exciting advancements in hurricane forecasts and developing new decision support tools to improve community resilience to powerful hurricanes and tropical storms,” said Brennan in a National Hurricane Center news release. “Along with our colleagues across the National Weather Service and NOAA, we’re working to improve community safety through clear communication on the various hazards posed by these storms.” 

Brennan fills the role left vacant by the departure of Ken Graham, who became the director of the National Weather Service in June 2022. Jamie Rhome has served as the acting director of the National Hurricane Center since that time and will resume his duties as the center’s deputy director.