NOAA blasted for backing Trump

Sep 7, 2019

A former director of the National Hurricane Center is among those criticizing the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration over its backing of President Trump and his assertion that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama.

Former National Hurricane Center Director Bill Read blasted NOAA leadership Friday night on his Facebook page calling the situation "so disappointing" and saying he would comment because NOAA employees were ordered to be quiet.

"Either NOAA Leadership truly agrees with what they posted or they were ordered to do it. If it is the former, the statement shows a lack of understanding of how to use probabilistic forecasts in conjunction with other forecast information. Embarrassing. If it is the latter, the statement shows a lack of courage on their part by not supporting the people in the field who are actually doing the work. Heartbreaking," Read wrote.

An unmanned NOAA spokesman issued a statement saying that information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to the president had demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. Friday's statement also said the Birmingham NWS tweet Sunday morning, which refuted an earlier Tweet by Trump "spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

"What the Birmingham NWS office sent out Sunday morning was correct ,” says former NHC Director Read. “And, it served the public well, it clearly let the public know that they were not at risk from the impacts of Hurricane Dorian."

Dan Sobien, president of the union representing weather service employees, tweeted Friday, "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."

Alex Sizemore, a meteorologist at NWS in Birmingham, tweeted, "The irony in all of this Twitter mess is that the tweet we sent out had nothing to do with what Trump tweeted, we had no knowledge of it at the time." Sizemore said the Sunday tweet came in response to people calling the NWS office.

MIT meteorology professor Kerry Emanuel said Trump's "broadcast of false information is inexcusable."

NOAA's mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth's environment. It is part of the Commerce Department, overseen by Secretary Wilbur Ross. The White House did not immediately respond to a question of whether someone at the White House had asked NOAA to issue its statement.