The acting chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is looking to determine if the agency’s support of Donald Trump’s claims that Hurricane Dorian would hit Alabama is a violation of its policies and ethics. According to The Washington Post, Craig McLean emailed colleagues to inform them that he was concerned that NOAA’s response was a “danger to public health and safety” and called the move “political.”
Reportedly, Trump said incorrectly on September 1 that Hurricane Dorian would slam into Alabama, casing public concern and confusion. At the time, there was a 5 percent chance that some tropical force winds would hit a portion of the state, but it was not expected to experience any major impact as compared to other parts of the East Coast.
The National Weather Service (NWS) contradicted Trump’s message, assuring people in Alabama that they wouldn’t feel any impact from the storm directly. Trump reportedly doubled down on his assertion with a press conference in the Oval Office during which he pointed to an official map showing the projected path of the storm. At the end of the map, someone used a black marker to extend the hurricane’s pathway into Alabama, resulting in outrage by people who believed the move was possibly dishonest.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 4, 2019
Over the next few days, Trump continued to insist that the information he originally provided was accurate, posting maps to show that Alabama was once in the path of the hurricane.
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
Finally, NOAA weighed in on the matter on September 6, defending Trump’s claim that the storm would hit Alabama. Their statement also slammed Birmingham’s division of the NWS for making a statement that spoke about the storm in “absolute terms.”
The move caused an uproar within NOAA and NWS as employees were told not to publicly contradict Trump’s statement, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
McLean weighed in on the controversy in an email.
“The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should,” he wrote. “There followed, last Friday, an unsigned news release from ‘NOAA’ that inappropriately and incorrectly contradicted the NWS forecaster. 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,” he added.
McLean said that he found NOAA’s news release concerning and said that it compromised the agency’s ability to inform the public about important information. He vowed to look into the statement to see if any violations took place.