Sep 9, 2019 - Science

NOAA's top scientist will investigate why agency backed Trump's Alabama Dorian claims

President trump holding doctored map of Dorian

The map shown by President Trump during a Sept. 4 Oval Office briefing last week was a forecast from Aug. 29 and appears to have been altered by a black marker to extend the hurricane's range to include Alabama. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting chief scientist says he will investigate if the agency's response to President Trump’s repeated claims that Alabama was at risk from Hurricane Dorian violated its policies and ethics, according to an email obtained by the Washington Post.

The big picture: The agency received backlash from scientists when it issued an unsigned statement that defended Trump's weeklong insistence that he was correct about the storm threatening Alabama. It also rebuked the National Weather Service’s Birmingham division for correcting the president and speaking "in absolute terms."

What he's saying: Craig McLean, NOAA's acting chief scientist, called the response "political" and a "danger to public health and safety" in the email obtained by the Post.

  • "My understanding is that this intervention to contradict the forecaster was not based on science but on external factors including reputation and appearance, or simply put, political."
  • "If the public cannot trust our information, or we debase our forecaster’s warnings and products, that specific danger arises."

Go deeper ... NOAA: 20% chance Alabama could have felt Dorian's winds

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