- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 5, 2019

Hurricane Dorian has long since turned away from any path that would have taken it remotely near Alabama, but the tempest over President Trump’s warning for Alabamians was still churning Thursday.

After days of being widely mocked on social media for his prediction, followed by more kerfuffle over an apparently altered map, Mr. Trump again insisted on Twitter that he was correct in his initial alert last week that Alabama, along with Georgia and the Carolinas, would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

“In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf,” the president tweeted Thursday.

He added, “Instead it turned North and went up the coast, where it continues now.”

“In the one model through Florida, the Great State of Alabama would have been hit or grazed,” Mr. Trump said. “In the path it took, no. Read my FULL FEMA statement. What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!”

On Thursday afternoon, he tweeted National Hurricane Center maps from Thursday and Friday of last week showing potential winds from Dorian stretching into Alabama, and shared a Friday tweet from the Alabama National Guard warning that the storm could head in the state’s direction.

However, by Sunday all models that had Dorian cutting across the Florida peninsula had changed and the storm was predicted to move up the East Coast, as has happened.

But the White House released a statement late Thursday from Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, the president’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, to back up the president’s account. He confirmed that a hurricane briefing for the president Sunday “showed the possibility of tropical storm force winds hitting parts of Alabama.”

Adm. Brown said the forecasts of the storm’s impact area “changed substantially over time,” including that by Monday morning the threat to Alabama was over.

And then came “Sharpiegate.”

During an Oval Office briefing Wednesday, Mr. Trump displayed a map of the National Hurricane Center forecast for last Thursday that showed the storm’s likely path over Florida. The map showed what appeared to be a hand-drawn extension on the end of the cone of uncertainty that projected its path over Alabama.

Mr. Trump offered no explanation for the darker semicircle drawn on the map that he displayed. But he told reporters, “I know that Alabama was in the original forecast.”

When the president included Alabama in his original warning Sept. 1, the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama, tweeted in response: “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

The altered hurricane map that Mr. Trump displayed in the Oval Office has led to a virtual cottage industry of memes on social media — for example, a hand-drawn semicircle over Mr. Trump’s head in a photograph to make him appear taller than former President Barack Obama as they stood next to each other.

Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg joined in Thursday, saying he feels “sorry” for Mr. Trump.

“I don’t know if he felt it necessary to pull out a Sharpie and change the map; I don’t know if it was one of his aides [who believed] they had to do that in order to order to protect his ego,” Mr. Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said on CNN’s “New Day.” “This is humiliating. This is an embarrassing moment for our country, and we seem to see a new national embarrassment every day.”

“What we’re seeing there is literally pathetic,” he said. “It makes you feel a kind of pity for everybody involved, and that’s not how I want to feel about the president whether it’s from my party or the other one.”

⦁ David Sherfinski contributed to this article.

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