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Thu Nov 7, 2019, 11:34 PM

Commerce Department aides knew Alabama hurricane forecasters were not responding to Trump, but still

Source: Washington Post

Commerce Department aides knew Alabama hurricane forecasters were not responding to Trump, but still rebuked them

By Jason Samenow and Andrew Freedman
November 7 at 9:24 PM

Senior aides at the Commerce Department forced the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to publicly rebuke its weather forecasters in Birmingham, Ala., for contradicting President Trump’s comments about the threat Hurricane Dorian posed to that state, even after NOAA informed them that the agency’s meteorologists were not aware at the time they were contradicting the president, according to three officials familiar with the matter.

These NOAA officials spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity surrounding ongoing investigations into the agency’s actions regarding Hurricane Dorian. NOAA and its National Weather Service are part of the Commerce Department.

According to emails released via a Freedom of Information Act request from The Post and other news organizations, Julie Kay Roberts, NOAA’s deputy chief of staff and communications director, was told on Sept. 2 about the motivation behind a tweet that the National Weather Service office in Birmingham had sent at 11:11 a.m. the day before. When forecasters there tweeted “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” they were responding to an influx of calls from worried residents and not to an earlier tweet from Trump.

Trump had wrongly tweeted at 10:51 a.m. the same day that Alabama would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated,” sparking confusion and fear in the state. Alabama was not in the so-called “cone of uncertainty” for Dorian at the time, or close to the zone most likely to be affected by its hazardous conditions.

“I wanted to let you know that the forecasters in Birmingham who made the clarification post for Alabama [were] unaware of the POTUS tweet when they made their post,” Susan Buchanan, director of public affairs for the National Weather Service, wrote to Weather Service and NOAA officials, including Roberts, in an email on Sept. 2.

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Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2019/11/07/commerce-department-aides-knew-alabama-hurricane-forecasters-were-not-responding-trump-still-rebuked-them/

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