Union chief says National Weather workers ‘irate’ after NOAA backs Trump’s Alabama hurricane forecast

The head of a national union says federal workers are “shocked, stunned and irate” over the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) siding with President Trump over its own National Weather Service (NWS) regarding the reach of Hurricane Dorian.

Dan Sobien, who heads the National Weather Service Employees Organization representing thousands of employees working under NOAA, told The Daily Beast in an interview on Friday that “never ever before has their management thrown them under the bus like this.”

{mosads}“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 continued.

“What is very important is when the NWS issues a hurricane warning or flash flood warning—it’s very important [that] everyone is on the same page. It’s hard enough to convince people to evacuate or take cover. If you have confusion, it could be very bad,” he went on, adding, “Are people not going to believe the Hurricane Center or our forecasts now?” 

Sobien told the publication that some frustrated workers have even considered using Sharpies to mark up their NOAA shirts — alluding to the controversy over a map displayed by Trump in the Oval Office that was apparently altered with black marker to show the storm impacting Alabama.

The union head’s comments came in response to an unsigned statement NOAA released earlier Friday affirming Trump’s repeated claims that Hurricane Dorian was initially forecast to impact Alabama, despite widespread pushback from meteorologists.

The NOAA statement also disavowed a tweet the National Weather Service shared last weekend that contradicted Trump’s claim that Alabama was at risk of being hit by Hurricane Dorian. 

In the statement, the NOAA asserted that 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.” 

“From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, 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,” the statement continued. 

The statement referred to a tweet the National Weather Service in Birmingham shared last Sunday in which it said that “no impacts from Hurricane Dorian” would “be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.” 

The National Weather Service in Birmingham sent that tweet less than an hour after Trump said on Twitter that Alabama and other states would “most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by Dorian.

The NOAA statement backing Trump came as the president has repeatedly defended his claim that the early projections showed Alabama in Dorian’s path and lashed out at media coverage and meteorologists that pointed to forecasts placing the hurricane’s trajectory further to the east.

The controversy gained more steam on Wednesday after Trump displayed a map of Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory that was apparently altered with a black marker, which many speculated was a Sharpie, to include Alabama in the storm’s path.

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