After badly battering the Bahamas, Hurricane Dorian is making its way up the Atlantic coast of the US — but President Trump is still inexplicably calling attention inland to Alabama, a state that is nowhere near the hurricane’s current path. On September 4th, he tweeted a video of himself with a doctored National Hurricane Center map in hand, saying Dorian “could’ve, uh, was going towards the Gulf.” Trump pointed to what looked like a bubble drawn over Alabama in black sharpie to indicate that the state had at one point been in the path of the storm.
It was not. Although the trajectory of the storm shifted rapidly over the past week, the National Hurricane Center never released a forecast showing that chunk of Alabama in danger of being affected by Dorian. ABC reported that a forecast map released on August 30th showed a track forecast with a cone that reached the Alabama-Florida border, but even that was nowhere close to the map Trump brandished.
At one point last Friday, one forecast map did show a cone that brushed the Alabama-Florida border, but it did not go nearly as far.
Alabama is fine — but states along the southeast coast are bracing for massive flooding and potentially devastating winds
Trump’s incorrect map seemed to double down on misinformation he shared on Twitter days earlier, when he wrote: “In addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.”
20 minutes after that tweet, the National Weather Service in Alabama responded on Twitter: “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.”
On top of being wrong, Trump’s tampered map could also be illegal. Knowingly publishing a counterfeit weather forecast is punishable with a fine, getting locked up for up to 90 days, or both.
When asked about the map at a separate event on opioids, Trump said he didn’t know whether it had been drawn on with a marker. He stood by his previous statements that Alabama was included in previous forecasts and told reporters that weather models had showed a “95 percent chance probability” of Dorian hitting Alabama.
Hours later, Trump tweeted an image of raw data from a computer model from August 28, claiming that it proved him right about Alabama yet again. But The Washington Post reported that the data “shows the majority of models called for Hurricane Dorian to make landfall well southeast of Alabama, most likely in Florida.”
Trump’s “95 percent chance probability” claim is not true now, and was not true over the weekend. Alabama is fine. But states along the southeast coast are bracing for massive flooding and potentially devastating winds.
Dorian picked up strength as the President doubled down on his false statements that afternoon. It’s now carrying maximum sustained winds of 110 mph. If its winds speed up by just one mile per hour, it will be upgraded — once again — to a Category 3 storm. The National Weather Service is now warning of “life-threatening inundation” of coastlines due to potential storm surges stretching from the northeast coast of Florida up to Poquoson, Virginia.
Birmingham, Alabama, on the other hand, is forecast for sunshine throughout the rest of the week.