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Trump tempest over Hurricane Dorian forecast divides NOAA against its own workers at NWS

2019-09-08

U.S. President Donald Trump (R) references a map held by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan while talking to reporters following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office at the White House September 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The map was a forecast from August 29 and appears to have been altered by a black marker to extend the hurricane's range to include Alabama. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The superstorm over Hurricane Dorian’s projected reach just went off the scale.

A union honcho for federal National Weather Service workers lashed out against agency bosses at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for defending President Trump’s claim that Alabama would get hit by the monster ‘cane.

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“Let me assure you the hard working employees of the NWS had nothing to do with the utterly disgusting and disingenuous tweet sent out by AA management tonight,” Dan Sobien, president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, tweeted Friday.

Sobien also railed in a Daily Beast interview that AA threw its own NWS workers “under the bus” by giving Trump cover in his days-long claim that Alabama was forecast to get hit by Dorian.

“These are the people risking their lives flying into hurricanes and putting out forecasts that save lives. Never before has their management undercut their scientifically sound reasoning and forecasts,” Sobien told the outlet. “Are people not going to believe the Hurricane Center or our forecasts now?”

There was reportedly even talk among NWS workers about using Sharpies to mark up their AA shirts – a swipe at the black marker-altered map Trump used in the Oval Office on Wednesday to include the Yellowhammer State in the projected storm path.

Last Sunday, Trump warned that Alabama, along with the Carolinas and Georgia, was “most likely to be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”

The NWS in Birmingham tweeted back: “Alabama will T see any impacts from #Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

On Friday, AA fanned the flames by siding with the president.

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“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,” the federal agency said in a statement.

”From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by AA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

Even some of AA’s own former officials debunked the agency’s lame defense.

Ex-AA chief operating officer David Titley tweeted the agency’s stance represented "perhaps the darkest day ever for @noaa leadership.”

“Don’t know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral cowardice,” he charged.

And Monica Medina, who worked as AA’s general counsel, called “BS” on the agency’s statement.

“As a former @AA leader I can say two things with certainty. No AA Administrator I worked for would have done this," she tweeted. "And I would have quit if I had been directed to agree to let this BS go out.”

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