The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Tuesday it will investigate a “political” statement’s released last week that “incorrectly” supported President Trump’s claims that Hurricane Dorian would pose a threat to Alabama.
In a memo posted to NOAA’s website, Research Assistant Administrator Craig McLean praised the National Weather Service for issuing “the best possible” forecasts of the Category 5 hurricane, but added that NOAA did not intend to jeopardize its scientific mission by debasing the NWS and supporting Mr. Trump’s claims.
“As I’m sure you also know, there was a complex issue involving the President commenting on the path of the hurricane,” Mr. McLean writes. “The NWS Forecaster(s) corrected any public misunderstanding in an expert and timely way, as they should.”
“There followed, last Friday, an unsigned press 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,” he continued.
Mr. McLean went on to call the press release “very concerning” as it put the agency’s reputation into question.
“It compromises the ability of NOAA to convey life-saving information necessary to avoid substantial and specific danger to public health and safety. If the public cannot trust our information, or we debase our forecaster’s warnings and products, that specific danger arises,” he explained.
“I have a responsibility to pursue these truths. I will,” he added.
Mr. McLean’s statement was originally circulated internally Monday before being posted as a public memo Tuesday.
Mr. Trump has defended his warnings that Hurricane Dorian would threaten parts of Alabama, despite major hurricane forecasting that later showed Alabama was in virtually no danger of being hit.
During an Oval Office press gaggle, Mr. Trump even displayed a hurricane forecast map with an extra bubble drawn in black ink to include parts of Alabama, reportedly to prove his point.