By Lise Alves, Contributing Reporter
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA – Criticism surrounding Hurricane Dorian, Alabama and U.S. President Donald Trump continues with experts and entities saying that the denial by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of a statement by one of its offices may have hurt the agency’s reputation.
“Some administrator, or someone at the top of NOAA, threw the National Weather Service under the bus,” Brian McNoldy, a hurricane researcher at the University of Miami, told NPR.
The controversy started last week when, as Hurricane Dorian was ravaging the Bahamas and quickly approaching the US mainland, President Trump said that Alabama, along with Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas could be hit by the hurricane.
Minutes later the National Weather Service’s Birmingham (Alabama) office send out a message in its official Twitter account stating that Alabama was not in Dorian’s path.
“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,” read the statement.
The office, however, was discredited on Friday when NOAA issued a statement saying that the message had been incorrect.
“From Wednesday, August 28th, through Monday, September 2nd, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama,” said the NOAA statement issued on Friday.
“The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time,” concluded the statement.
Former NOAA officials were quick to come to the service’s rescue. “The blemish to a Federal Government carrying out its duty to protect life and property was the erroneous warning issued by a Presidential Tweet,” stated Elbert (Joe) Friday, former director of the NOAA on his social media account.
According to Friday, the chances of significant impact of Hurricane Dorian to the state of Alabama ‘was essentially zero’. “The recent communications by a ‘NOAA Spokesman’ which tried to rewrite history in deplorable. Chastising WFO Birmingham for correctly pointing out that there was no danger to Alabama was unconscionable,” added the former director.
And entities linked to atmospheric analysis were also at hand to commend the non-threatening evaluation given by the Birmingham office.
“The American Meteorological Society fully supports our colleagues at NOAA, who consistently put the safety of the American public first and foremost. They work tirelessly employing state of the art science to keep Americans safe,” said one of the most prestigious meteorological groups in the US.
“AMS believes the criticism of the Birmingham forecast office is unwarranted; rather they should have been commended for their quick action based on science in clearly communicating the lack of threat to the citizens of Alabama,” concluded the entity.