NOAA backs Trump, disavows NWS Birmingham on Dorian track

NOAA backs Trump, disavows NWS Birmingham on Dorian track
The latest NOAA forecast map at the time of President's Trump's tweet that Alabama would be hit "much harder than anticipated." (Source: NOAA)

(WWBT) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is backing President Donald Trump on his unsupported claim that Alabama was in the path of Hurricane Dorian, disavowing a statement from the National Weather Service in the state.

NOAA issued a statement Friday supporting Trump’s claim that Alabama would be hit “much harder than anticipated” by Hurricane Dorian, and pointed to evidence that didn’t support that claim.

“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. This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41, which can be viewed at the following link. 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.”

Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, tweeted Friday, “I have never been so embarrassed by NOAA. What they did is disgusting.” He followed that tweet with another supporting the NWS: “Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by NOAA management tonight #NOAA."

Former NOAA chief operating officer David Titley called the move “moral cowardice” and “perhaps the darkest day ever for @noaa leadership.”

Trump tweeted at 10:51 a.m. Sept. 1 that Alabama was among several states that would be impacted “much harder than anticipated” by the storm.

“In addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!” Trump posted.

Shortly afterward, the National Weather Service in Birmingham tweeted, “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

The graphics NOAA pointed to show that the most recent data at the time of that tweet – issued at 8 a.m. – included a small sliver of southeastern Alabama with a 5 percent chance of tropical storm force winds.

Parts of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey were all forecast to have higher chances of tropical storm force winds at the time, and none were included in the president’s warning.

The latest NOAA forecast map at the time of President's Trump's tweet that Alabama would be hit "much harder than anticipated."
The latest NOAA forecast map at the time of President's Trump's tweet that Alabama would be hit "much harder than anticipated." (Source: NOAA)

Trump has been critical of news outlets that refuted his tweet, showing an earlier forecast map to reporters in the Oval Office that had been altered to extend the projected track of the storm to include Alabama, and tweeted a video Friday of a CNN forecast from several days before his warning that mentions Alabama as a possible long-term destination that was altered to emphasize the brief mention of the state.

The source of the video in that tweet, which was pinned to top of the president’s feed, is not yet known.

Hurricane Dorian moved up the East Coast on Thursday and Friday, scraping Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.

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