Tags: trump | dorian | alabama | noaa

NOAA Backs Trump: Early Dorian Forecast Included Alabama

By    |   Friday, 06 September 2019 06:43 PM

A federal agency reversed course Friday on the question of whether President Donald Trump tweeted stale information about Hurricane Dorian potentially hitting Alabama.

On Sunday, Trump warned that Alabama, along with the Carolinas and Georgia, was "most likely to be hit (much) harder than anticipated."

The National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted in response: "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."

But the president has been adamant throughout the week that he was correct, and the White House has deployed government resources and staff to back him.

The latest defense came out Friday evening, when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a statement from an unidentified spokesman stating that information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that "tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama." The advisories were dated from last Wednesday, Aug. 28, through Monday, the statement read.

Friday's statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning "spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

The statement from NOAA contrasts with comments the agency's spokesman, Chris Vaccaro, made Sunday. "The current forecast path of Dorian does not include Alabama," Vaccaro said at the time.

Brian McNoldy, hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, cited the focus that NOAA placed on "tropical force winds" in its Friday evening statement. He said the first assertion about such winds from Dorian affecting Alabama is fine, but the second assertion "seems to be excessive."

McNoldy said the National Weather Service "had the right tone and message for the time. Alabama, for some time, was on the fringe of probabilities of experiencing tropical storm winds. That is not very threatening."

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment. It is part of the Commerce Department, overseen by Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The Birmingham office issued the tweet Sept. 1 after President Donald Trump included Alabama in the list of states possible in the hurricane's path.

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. #alwx

— NWS Birmingham (@NWSBirmingham) September 1, 2019

Though one of the early "spaghetti" models did show a possible path through Alabama, the National Hurricane Center track forecast cone, which takes a composite of all the models, never included Alabama.

The NOAA statement, posted on its website, reads: "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.

"From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

On Wednesday, the president displayed a map of the storm's projected path that appeared to have been altered with a Sharpie pen to include the state of Alabama, following his remarks on Sunday in which he said it could be affected by the storm.

News reports about the discrepancies and about the apparently Sharpie-edited map exploded on social media - the term #SharpiePresident was trending on Twitter - prompting Trump to fire back.

"Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!" Trump tweeted along with a collection of maps on Thursday afternoon. "I was with you all the way Alabama. The Fake News Media was not!"

Later in the day, after Trump declined to answer a question from a reporter in the Oval Office about his focus on the issue, the White House released a statement from Rear Admiral Peter Brown, the president's homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, who said he had briefed Trump about the potential path of the storm using the NHC forecast and other models.

FORECAST TRACK 'CHANGED SUBSTANTIALLY'

Brown said Trump's comments to the press on Sunday, when he discussed Alabama during a visit to the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, were based on that morning's Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included "the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama."

"In fact, from the evening of Tuesday, August 27, until the morning of Monday, September 2, forecasts from the National Hurricane Center showed the possibility of tropical storm force winds hitting parts of Alabama," Brown wrote.

Brown noted that the forecast track "changed substantially over time" and areas that were originally seen as targets such as Puerto Rico, South Florida and the Gulf Coast experienced "minimal to no impact from Hurricane Dorian."

Early NHS models of the hurricane last week showed roughly a dozen or so trajectories, including one that took it into the Gulf. But by Sunday, when the president discussed Alabama, the trajectories clearly showed the storm going to the Atlantic and not the Gulf of Mexico.

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Democrat from Texas who chairs the House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology, expressed concern about Trump's actions in a letter to him on Thursday.

“In times of emergency, the American public need to have confidence in the information being provided by the White House, and misrepresentation of National Weather Service (NWS) forecasts is especially disturbing when it concerns an ongoing natural disaster that has already killed twenty people,” she wrote.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Friday released a statement contradicting a tweet from the National Weather Service office in in Birmingham, Ala. saying Alabama was never in the forecast path of Hurricane Dorian.The Birmingham office issued the tweet...
trump, dorian, alabama, noaa
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2019-43-06
Friday, 06 September 2019 06:43 PM
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