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Storm watcher at ECU hurricane conference

(May 17, 2000)   —   Hurricane names come and go. There were Floyd, Bonnie, Bertha, Andrew, Hugo, Emily and many others, but one name, often associated with hurricanes, has been around for a long time.

The name is Sheets.

For more than 30 years Robert C. Sheets, the former head of the National Hurricane Center, has been on top of the hurricanes that have either threatened or have caused widespread damage in the southeastern United States. And he's been "on top" of them both literally and figuratively.

Sheets will give the keynote address at the three-day hurricane conference "In the Aftermath of Hurricane Floyd: Recovery In the Coastal Plain," that will be held May 24 - 26 in Mendenhall Student Center at East Carolina University. His remarks, scheduled for Thursday (May 25) at 7:30 p.m. in the student center's Hendrix Theatre, will focus on the hurricanes that eastern North Carolina might experience in the future.

The public is invited. Admission is free.

The Indiana native, who now resides in Florida, is familiar to many North Carolinians and to most other people who follow the tracks of hurricanes. When storms threaten, Sheets has been the expert that the news media have turned to for information about projected paths and the potential for destruction. For years he was a familiar face on the television networks and continues to consult for the ABC Network and for the Florida News Network that includes TV and radio affiliates in 10 states.

In addition, he has, and continues to provide technical guidance for films and books about meteorology, particularly hurricanes. He is co-author of a soon-to-be-publish volume from Random House entitled "The Hurricane Book." He also appeared in the popular movie "Stormchasers." Sheets began his career in 1961 after graduating from Ball State University.

He received a commission in the U.S. Air Force that sent him to the University of Oklahoma to study meteorology. He completed his Ph.D. in 1972. After the Air Force, he joined the National Hurricane Research Laboratory where he continued to study hurricanes, directed field operations and made more than 200 high-risk flights through the "eyes" of hurricanes.

In 1980, he became a hurricane specialist with the National Hurricane Center and was soon promoted to deputy director and director. He led the operations of the center from 1987 to 1995. The hurricane conference will bring Sheets and other experts to Greenville to talk about new ways to reduce the destruction from violent weather. The conference's goal, according to conference director John Maiolo, is to develop plans and actions that can soften the blow from storms like 1999's Hurricane Floyd that produced extensive wind and water damage, especially in the state's low-lying inland areas. Sessions begin on Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. with registration and a "Research Workshop." The first full session of the conference convenes at 1 p.m. The opening topic is "Living in the Eye of the Storm,"


 


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