Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

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Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#1 Postby btangy » Tue Jul 31, 2007 6:11 pm

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Former hurricane director Robert Burpee dies

Robert Burpee, a prominent hurricane scientist who served for two years as director of the National Hurricane Center, died Tuesday after a long illness. He was 65.

Colleagues said Burpee died at 5:40 a.m. at Mercy Hospital in Miami. He suffered from pneumonia and a variety of other ailments, they said. He had been under treatment and frequently hospitalized for several years.

Burpee was in charge of the hurricane center from July 1995 to August 1997, when he requested reassignment because of health problems and was succeeded by Jerry Jarrell.

''We're saddened by the loss and offer our condolences to his family,'' said Dennis Feltgen, a spokesman for the center in West Miami-Dade County. ``He was a great asset to the National Hurricane Center and to the meteorological community. He will be missed.''

During his tenure there, Burpee was known for his rock-solid adherence to the data, and his sometimes stolid appearances on television. He was not the sort of person who gravitated to the spotlight.

''I'm not a performer,'' he told The Miami Herald in 1995. ``I'm not trying to act like a performer. I'm trying to act like a meteorologist.''

It was no act.

''He was one of the most brilliant, one of the most ethical persons I have ever met,'' said Judy Drucker, the well-known classical music impresario, who was close with Burpee for many years. ``He took me into a whole new world, the world of science.''

Educated at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Burpee quickly emerged as a leading -- and courageous -- hurricane scientist, flying through the eyes of the storms more than 260 times aboard hurricane hunter aircraft.

Soft-spoken and precise, he served for many years as a researcher and director at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Hurricane Research Division on Virginia Key, where he helped pioneer the incorporation of aircraft-collected data into hurricane forecasts.

One major contribution: Burpee's idea to fly research jets in the environment that surrounds hurricanes, adding that information to computerized forecast models.

''Studies show a 10 to 15 percent improvement in track forecasts when the jet data is ingested,'' said Max Mayfield, who retired in January as the hurricane center's director. ``Everyone living in hurricane-prone communities in the United States owes thanks to Bob Burpee for this tremendous contribution.''

Burpee also conducted important early studies on the role played in hurricane development by tropical waves from Africa and on the Florida sea breeze, responsible for South Florida's daily afternoon showers and thunderstorms during the summer.

News of Burpee's death spread quickly around the NOAA facility on Virginia Key, casting a cloud over employees. He had counseled many of them during times of personal turmoil.

''It's a sad day for us here,'' said Howard Friedman, the research division's deputy director. ``We were like his family and he had a very positive effect on a lot of these folks.''

Burpee is survived by a brother, Richard Burpee, and a sister, Nancy Cutter. A memorial service is scheduled at 1 p.m. Friday at Plymouth Congregation Church, 3400 Devon Road in Coconut Grove.


http://www.miamiherald.com/news/breakin ... 88188.html
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#2 Postby Category 5 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 7:19 pm

Very sad. He served a very nasty two year stretch too :( :cry: .

R.I.P, and thanks for your years of service.
Last edited by Category 5 on Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#3 Postby brunota2003 » Tue Jul 31, 2007 8:38 pm

Awww :( Sad to hear. God Bless Him and thank you Mr. Burpee!
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#4 Postby wxmann_91 » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:28 pm

Surprised this hasn't received more replies yet. RIP Mr. Burpee.
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#5 Postby StormScanWx » Wed Aug 01, 2007 1:28 pm

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#6 Postby Frank2 » Wed Aug 01, 2007 2:57 pm

I just found out about this a few moments ago:

http://www.miamiherald.com/news/hurrica ... 88188.html

my last conversation with Dr. Burpee (or Bob, as he asked me to call him on my very first day with NOAA), was two years ago at an NHC retirement dinner.

At the end of the evening, I helped walk him out to the parking lot, and, we spoke in a light-hearted way, as we always did - it was a very nice final meeting...

I sometimes felt as if he considered himself a big brother to me - I seemed to have several at that time (I needed them all - haw)...

Ny heart is saddened to hear of his passing, but, my feeling is that he was ready...

Frank
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#7 Postby Recurve » Thu Aug 02, 2007 4:24 pm

Sad news indeed. My condolences to all his family and friends. I remember his calm seriousness in public appearances during those seasons. He obviously had a tremendous impact on hurricane science and forecasting.

Rest in peace.
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#8 Postby Downdraft » Thu Aug 02, 2007 6:59 pm

You know what would be great? If somehow we could start a hurricane forecaster's hall of fame. With giants like Bob Burpee and John Hope new people could read about the true giants of this field and the contributions they made. I'm sure these aren't the only two I'm sure and as for entry a nomination could be made in a post and some selection committee comprised of staff, pro's and am's alike could vote on it. Wouldn't it be great to visit a site where you can visit with the men and women that made hurricane forecasting history. Just a thought!
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Re: Robert Burpee (former director of the NHC), 1942-2007

#9 Postby brunota2003 » Thu Aug 02, 2007 8:28 pm

Downdraft wrote:You know what would be great? If somehow we could start a hurricane forecaster's hall of fame. With giants like Bob Burpee and John Hope new people could read about the true giants of this field and the contributions they made. I'm sure these aren't the only two I'm sure and as for entry a nomination could be made in a post and some selection committee comprised of staff, pro's and am's alike could vote on it. Wouldn't it be great to visit a site where you can visit with the men and women that made hurricane forecasting history. Just a thought!

That is actually a very good idea, I like it! Stacy Stewart has my vote!

Edit: Thinking upon this idea with a friend, a good way to start it would be as a thread and go from there. I think, if it were to open up as a site one day, the site should include all of the Atlantic Hurricane Records, kind of your one stop shop...need to know something about hurricane history, whether it be forecasters or records? Go there!
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