National Hurricane Center Head Retires

National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfield explains tidal surge impacts that might be caused by Hurricane Rita, in this Sept. 23, 2005 file photo during a television broadcast at the hurricane center in Miami. Mayfield will retire in January, the National Hurricane Center said Friday Aug. 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Andy Newman, File)
AP Photo
Max Mayfield, who oversaw America's tropical-storm forecasting during the Atlantic's most destructive period on record, said Friday that he will retire as director of the National Hurricane Center.

Mayfield, 57, told his staff he will retire in January but had no single reason for leaving the center, which he has led since May 2000.

"I've been here 34 years, and as Forrest Gump said in the movie, 'I'm tired and I want to go home,"' the Miami Herald reported on its Web site.

Mayfield is well known to residents in hurricane-prone areas in the United States for his countless hours of television interviews. He and his staff were praised for the dead-on forecasts of last year's Hurricane Katrina, the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

Besides monitoring storms themselves, Mayfield also oversees hurricane awareness programs in most coastal states. With the past three frenzied hurricane seasons, Mayfield has been traveling nonstop, hurricane center spokesman Frank Lepore said.

As he announced his plans at a staff meeting, Mayfield was also monitoring two active storms in the Atlantic, two more in the Pacific and was conducting job interviews.

Mayfield, who began his meteorology career in the Air Force, said he was not sure what he would do after retiring.

"I don't have anything lined up, and I don't want to even think about it until I get some rest," he said.