NOAA chief to address forecasters amid Dorian controversy

FAN Editor

The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a chance to weigh in on the fray over President Trump’s mistaken claim that Hurricane Dorian was threatening Alabama. The acting administrator of the agency, Neil Jacobs, is set to speak Tuesday to a meeting of the National Weather Association in Huntsville, Alabama.

NOAA has come under intense criticism since it released a statement Friday chastising a National Weather Service office that contradicted Mr. Trump’s tweeted 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,” a NOAA spokesman said in a statement Friday evening.  “This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41, which can be viewed at the following link.”

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“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 statement continued.

The statement was a response to comments on Sunday, September 1. Mr. Trump had tweeted that Alabama would be impacted by Hurricane Dorian. “In addition to Florida — South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” he wrote Sunday morning. 

The Birmingham National Weather Service disputed that just minutes later in a tweet: “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.” 
The National Weather Service Employees Organization pushed back against NOAA, with the organization’s president calling the NOAA statement “utterly disgusting and disingenuous.”

A top NOAA official said the agency likely violated scientific integrity rules with the statement on Friday disavowing the Birmingham National Weather Service. Craig McLean, NOAA’s acting chief scientist, wrote an email to colleagues that said the agency’s statement Friday backing up Mr. Trump’s claims was “political” and a “danger to public health and safety.”

“I am pursuing the potential violations of our NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity,” McLean wrote in the email, which was obtained by CBS News. The letter was first reported by the Washington Post.

National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini says forecasters in Birmingham did the right thing when they tried to combat panic and rumors that Dorian posed a threat to Alabama.

Mr. Trump courted controversy for holding up a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration map that appeared to have been altered with a black pen to show a projection of Dorian possibly striking Alabama.

The storm stayed far east of the state.

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