President Trump on Thursday refused to admit he was wrong when he erroneously warned Alabama residents on Sunday that the hurricane posed a threat to the state, a warning that was debunked minutes later by the National Weather Service (NWS).
“In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” Trump falsely claimed Sunday morning.
The NWS responded 20 minutes later with a statement fact-checking Trump’s tweet: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”
Bob Henson, a meteorologist at Weather.com, told The Associated Press that Alabama “was never in the five-day cone” of uncertainty for the hurricane.
“I know that Alabama was in the original forecast,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “Actually, we have a better map than that which is going to be presented, where we had many lines going directly — many models, each line being a model — and they were going directly through. And in all cases Alabama was hit if not lightly, in some cases pretty hard. … They actually gave that a 95% chance probability.”
The Associated Press noted that the highest probability issued for a U.S. locale for Dorian has been in the 60% range, not 95%.
In fact, the National Hurricane Center’s Hurricane Force Wind Probabilities graphic issued hours before Trump’s tweet showed Alabama had a zero percent probability of experiencing hurricane-force winds.
That did not stop the president on Wednesday from displaying a modified National Hurricane Center (NHC) “Cone of Uncertainty” forecast, dated from 11 a.m. on Aug. 29, that appears to have been altered with a Sharpie to indicate a risk the storm would move into Alabama from Florida.
Trump then shared outdated forecast models and probability maps issued days before his Sept. 1 tweet in an attempt to retroactively justify the tweet.
“Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it!” Trump tweeted Thursday, sharing NHC graphics issued days before his Sept. 1 tweet.
Just as I said, Alabama was originally projected to be hit. The Fake News denies it! pic.twitter.com/elJ7ROfm2p
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 5, 2019
Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, responded: “He has no clue what he’s talking about, or what is plotted on that map. At the time of that cycle, Alabama was at even lower risk than before, and it was barely anything to start with.”
“Trump should have just admitted he made a mistake and moved on!” emailed Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University.
“The eye of a hurricane is literally right along the coast right now, as we speak,” WBZ Chief Meteorologist Eric Fisher tweeted on Thursday. “And I can’t tweet out any storm info without replies with sharpies or Alabama jokes. But keep goin’. Very helpful.”
The eye of a hurricane is literally right along the coast right now, as we speak.
And I can't tweet out any storm info without replies with sharpies or Alabama jokes
But keep goin'. Very helpful. https://t.co/o4jmI5HPZ9
— Eric Fisher (@ericfisher) September 5, 2019
No, Mr. President. This shows that individual locations in AL had less than a 1 in 5 chance of receiving TS-force winds over the forecast period. Plus it was 3-day-old data. Actual odds at the time of your tweet that AL would most likely be hit: <10%! You were just wrong. https://t.co/JeuB0knSXJ
— James Franklin (@FranklinJamesL) September 5, 2019