NOAA Contradicts Weather Service, Backs Trump On Hurricane Threat In Alabama


President Trump holds a doctored chart as he talks with reporters after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House, on Wednesday in Washington.

Evan Vucci/AP


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Evan Vucci/AP

President Trump holds a doctored chart as he talks with reporters after receiving a briefing on Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House, on Wednesday in Washington.

Evan Vucci/AP

The parent agency of the National Weather Service said late Friday that President Trump was correct when he claimed earlier this week that Hurricane Dorian had threatened the state of Alabama.

The surprise announcement in an unsigned statement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) essentially endorsed Trump’s Sundaytweetsaying that Alabama will “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

After the president’s tweet, the National Weather Service, in Birmingham, Ala., responded with its owntweet, saying “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

After Days-Long Delay, Hurricane Dorian Finally Makes It Ashore In N.C.

The NOAA statement takes the National Weather Service to task, declaring “The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

The surprise statement on Friday has left meteorologists around the country baffled and upset.

“Some administrator, or someone at the top of NOAA, threw the National Weather Service under the bus,” Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, told NPR.

“The part that really smells fishy is that this is five days after that tweet by Trump,” he added. “If the National Weather Service did issue a misleading or incorrect tweet, that would need to be amended or fixed in an hour or two.”

“I am very disappointed to see this statement come out from NOAA,” Oklahoma University meteorology professor Jason FurtadotoldThe Associated Press. He said the controversy over the president’s tweets and the NOAA statement undermines public confidence in meteorologists.

Since his original tweet, Trump has re-visited the controversy almost every day this week, includingdisplaying a doctored versionof a map showing Hurricane Dorian’s projected path to include Alabama.

In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf….

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)September 5, 2019

In fact, as NPR’s Brian Naylor reported, one National Hurricane Center map showed that Alabama could see tropical-force, not hurricane-class winds. Such windsrange between39-73 mph. That map also shows that there was only a 5 percent chance of such winds, below hurricane level, reaching Alabama.

Underlining the reaction by meteorologists to the escalating debate over the president’s claims is the fear that weather forecasting itself is becoming politicized.

“Hurricanes have never been a left or a right object,” said McNoldy. “And I hope they don’t become one.”

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