The Washington Post


Hurricane season started June 1, meaning Knabb — who has a PhD in meteorology and whose most recent job was as the on-air hurricane expert and Tropical Science Program Manager for the Weather Channel — is going to land in the eye of the storm sooner or later. But before the winds pick up, he took time to chat with the Loop about identifying with nerds, his cookbook stash and being afraid ... of hurricanes.

Which Cabinet secretary would you most like to hang out with, and what would you do?

I would love to spend time with the Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, and travel with her to the various states to see what the states are telling the federal folks about emergency preparedness. Then we’d go to a Mexican restaurant and get great food.

What’s your favorite non-work-related Web site/app/magazine?

Anything having to do with sports.

Fill in the blank: People would be surprised to know that I _________.

Spend a lot of time at the beach.

What’s your dream job?

I’m in it.

What motivated you to go into public service?

I want to make a difference. I want to walk out the door at the end of the day knowing that what I did made a lot of difference to a lot of people.

Favorite TV show?

“Big Bang Theory.” I can watch it over and over.

Which character from that show do you most identify with?

Probably Raj, just because he’s not the coolest guy in the group, but it is fun to watch his character evolve and become more cool.

What subject, other than your work, do you know the most about?

Probably cooking. I have numerous cookbooks from a variety of cuisines. If I go to a restaurant that I really like, I buy its cookbook.

What’s the best job you ever had?

Prior to this one? Hurricane Specialist at the National Hurricane Center.

Fill in the blank: I’m scared of _________________.


What’s one word you wish people would use to describe you?


You can draft one person in the private sector to come work for the federal government. Who would it be, and what would you have them do?

I would get the savviest businessman to help us still be a mission-oriented government service, but do it more like a business in terms of a financial plan and marketing to the public in a way that engages them.

Background Check is a new Loop feature in which we grill various government types about their lives on and off the clock. Please send suggestions for future subjects to

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.


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