NOAA nomination not first political foray for Myers, AccuWeather

Barry Myers, CEO of AccuWeather Inc., on Wednesday was nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Barry Myers, CEO of AccuWeather Inc., on Wednesday was nominated by President Donald Trump to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CDT photo

The White House has announced the nomination of a Centre County man to lead a national weather agency.

Actually, he already does that. Now it would be a government group, not a private one.

Barry Myers is President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the official organization tasked to “understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.”

Myers is the CEO of AccuWeather, a $100 million weather forecasting giant based in Ferguson Township. For 10 years, he has headed the company.

“... and since then the company has experienced its highest grossing years, and its largest global web and mobile audience growth,” the White House said in a statement, calling Myers “one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of weather information.”

The Washington Post noted Myers as a front-runner for the position in May. That was just before the start of a hurricane season that was marked by a record-breaking number of catastrophic storms with no one officially at the helm of NOAA, which has an operating budget of $5.6 billion.

Myers would bring his experience as the head of the AccuWeather business efforts, because that is where his background lies. He graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and a master’s in economics. He picked up a law degree at Boston University Law School. He later returned to Penn State, where he spent 18 years teaching graduate students in the Smeal College of Business.

“As a Penn State graduate and former faculty member, Barry Myers’ nomination to this high-level post is an exciting moment for our institution,” said Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers, calling him “a global thinker in the field of digital weather information.

“Every day, our alumni perform at a level of excellence that creates true impact and makes us proud. “We congratulate Mr. Myers on this honor and certainly wish him well as the approval process moves ahead.”

His brother, Joel Myers, who founded the company in 1962, is the meteorologist in the family, and pioneered weather forecasting as a for-profit business.

“Barry Myers is an exceptional nominee and uniquely qualified for this important leadership position as head of the world’s preeminent government agency in this field,” Joel Myers said. “His vast knowledge and business experience offers the outstanding qualities needed in the next leader of NOAA. Barry is an award-winning leader in global weather information issues. He is also a leader in the digital weather information space. On a personal note, as his brother, I have known him all his life, and I know he will be fully dedicated to serve the nation’s needs in a rational and ethical way.”

This is not the first time the two brothers have been involved in politics. In 2005, the Myers name rose in connection with then-Sen. Rick Santorum, who sponsored legislation that would have kept the National Weather Service from competing with businesses like AccuWeather, The Weather Channel and others that make money doing what the government group provides for free.

Barry Myers was quoted in a Palm Beach Post article at the time as saying the bill would improve public safety by making the National Weather Service focus on hurricanes and tsunamis instead of the daily weather products provided by private sector companies.

Santorum was criticized, including in a Centre Daily Times editorial, for the perceived impropriety of the move, which came after accepting thousands in donations from AccuWeather employees. One of those donations was $2,000 from Joel Myers, then the CEO, just two days before the bill was introduced.

If confirmed by the Senate, Barry Myers would head the agency that oversees the National Weather Service.

Barry Myers contributed to both Trump’s and Democratic candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton’s presidential campaigns, giving $250 to Clinton and $500 to Trump, and likewise backed both Democratic and Republican horses in the Senate race where GOP incumbent Pat Toomey won re-election over Katie McGinty. Joel Myers gave no money to presidential campaigns in the 2016 race, but did put $3,700 into Toomey’s race.

Barry Myers testified before Congress in support of NOAA funding, according to AccuWeather, as well as in support of the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act signed into law by Trump in April. In addition to placing a priority on improving forecasts of extreme weather events like hurricanes, the law also “focuses on stimulating the private sector to generate weather data that the government can use to improve forecasts,” according to the Washington Post.

AccuWeather said in a statement that if confirmed, Barry Myers would step down from his position as CEO.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce