Head of NOAA Defends Admin, Thanks Local Weather Office that Contradicted Trump's Claims about Hurricane Dorian Threatening Alabama

AP News
September 10, 2019 - 7:58 am

AP

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is both defending the administration and thanking a local weather office that contradicted President Donald Trump's claims about Hurricane Dorian threatening Alabama.

Acting administrator Neil Jacobs told a meteorology group Tuesday that a NOAA statement which criticized a local forecast office that contradicted Trump was meant to clarify "technical aspects" about Dorian's potential impact.

Jacobs told the group what the statement failed to mention was the "good intent" of the Birmingham office in trying to calm fears and rumors about Dorian hitting Alabama. Jacobs recognized and thanked the Birmingham office while speaking before the National Weather Association in Huntsville, Alabama. He appeared near tears at one point.

Weather officials say Birmingham didn't realize that rumors about Dorian hitting the state began with a tweet by Trump.

While some forecasters had talked about walking out on Jacobs speech or staging some sort of protest, there was no demonstration and he received polite applause.

Kevin Laws, science and operations officer with the weather service office in Birmingham, said he appreciated the remarks by Jacobs, who he has known for 20 years.

"Absolutely no hard feelings," Laws said.

Jacobs' remarks came a day after National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini said forecasters in Birmingham did the right thing Sept. 1 when they tried to combat public panic and rumors that Dorian posed a threat to Alabama.

"They did that with one thing in mind: public safety," said Uccellini, who prompted a standing ovation by asking members of the Birmingham weather staff to stand.

"Only later, when the retweets and politically based comments started coming to their office, did they learn the sources of this information," he said.