Elbert W. “Joe” Friday

Elbert W. “Joe” Friday
Location of Interview
Collection Name

NOAA Heritage Oral History Project


NOAA Heritage Oral History Project aims to document the history and legacy of NOAA through compelling interviews with its leaders. These firsthand accounts provide an invaluable resource that preserves NOAA's significant contributions to environmental research and management, fostering a deeper understanding of NOAA's vital role in shaping our understanding of the Earth's oceans and atmosphere.

Date of Interview

Molly Graham

Principal Investigator

Dr. Elbert "Joe" Friday, Jr. was born in De Queen, Arkansas, in 1939.  Elbert graduated from high school in Midwest City, Oklahoma, and attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied engineering physics and graduated in 1961.  Upon graduation, Joe received his commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the Air Force and went on to complete his master's and PhD in meteorology from the University of Oklahoma.  Friday served for 20 years in the Air Force, including a tour in Vietnam as Weather Detachment Commander.  When he returned from Vietnam, Friday was assigned to the Air Force Global Weather Central at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha, Nebraska, where he was in charge of the unit there that provided day to day weather support to the classified intelligence community missions.  In 1978, Friday was assigned to the Pentagon, where he served as the Director of Environment and Life Sciences for the Secretary of Defense.  When Joe retired from the Air Force in 1981, he came to work for the National Weather Service as deputy director.  From March 1988 until June 1997, Dr. Friday served as Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and as Director of the National Weather Service, overseeing much of the modernization and restructuring of the Weather Service.  In 1997, Friday was reassigned and served as an Assistant Administrator for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.  From 1998 to 2002, Friday was Director of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) at the National Academy of Sciences.  Friday returned to Oklahoma in 2002, where he became the founding Director of the Sasaki Applied Meteorology Research Institute and Weathernews Professor of Applied Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

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