Hurricane Dorian was powerful, long-lived, life-threatening and destructive. The National Hurricane Center did an outstanding forecasting job and deserves our praise and thanks.
However, our focus from the death and destruction in the Bahamas was quickly shifted by a single incorrect tweet from the president that Alabama was among states that “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” The Birmingham office of the National Weather Service quickly followed with a statement correcting the president that said, “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian.” The simple statement was designed to allay the fears of residents.
News reports now say that White House officials pressured the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency to repudiate the Birmingham tweet, even threatening firings [“Report: Ross threatened NOAA over Dorian tweet,” News, Sept. 10]. Trump denied the allegations.
However, the weather service simply and professionally corrected the president. Imagine the potential corrosion of trust in the weather forecast system if politics is introduced into the mix. Will forecasters hesitate to issue predictions that political officials might not want to hear?
The mission of these skilled scientists is to save lives and protect property. The politicization of NOAA’S forecast system should never be tolerated!
Editor’s note: The writer, a meteorological enthusiast, received a distinguished service award from the National Hurricane Center and New York office of the National Weather Service in 2017.
Hurricane Dorian may not have reached Alabama, but for President Donald Trump, it hit the trifecta of his inadequacies.
His inattention to relevant details led to his inaccurate tweet based on an outdated weather map even though he claimed to have canceled a trip to Poland to monitor the storm. His personal insecurity propelled him to do rhetorical backflips of erroneous self-justifications instead of expressing empathy for the victims of a natural disaster of historic proportions. And his apparent alienation from the truth was on display regarding who did what to which weather map, and will, again, raise doubts about anything else that comes from his mouth on policy issues of national and international importance.
Trump boasts about being smarter than everyone else, be they scientists, generals or other public officials. But what his response to Dorian revealed is his tone deafness and leaden touch — not the human sensitivity and discerning intellect that presidential leadership requires.