White House Advisor Defends President Trump’s Claim That Hurricane Dorian Would Hit Alabama

September 5, 2019 Updated: September 6, 2019

A White House adviser released a statement on Sept. 5 defending President Donald Trump who claimed earlier forecasts showed Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Alabama.

Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Homeland Security and counterterrorism advisor, said in a statement circulated by the White House that he had briefed the president multiple times on the position, forecast, risks, and government response to Hurricane Dorian using various models that predicted the potential path of the eye of the storm.

“The President and I also reviewed other products including multiple meteorological models (often called the “spaghetti models”) and graphics that displayed the time of onset and geographical range of tropical-storm-force winds, storm surge, and rainfall. These products showed possible storm impacts well outside the official forecast cone,” Brown said in his statement.

He continued, “While speaking to the press on Sunday, September 1, the President addressed Hurricane Dorian and its potential impact on multiple states, including Alabama. The President’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical-storm-force winds in southeastern Alabama. In fact, from the evening of Tuesday, August 27, until the morning of Monday, September 2, forecasts from the National Hurricane Center showed the possibility of tropical-storm-force winds hitting parts of Alabama.”

Brown also noted that the forecast had changed its path “substantially over time,” adding that Puerto Rico, South Florida, and the Gulf Coast—places that were initially projected to be hit by the storm—saw “minimal to no impact” from the hurricane.

This statement comes after Trump doubled down on his Sept. 1 claim that previous trajectory projections showed Dorian would affect Alabama despite NWS Birmingham contradicting the claim on Twitter that same day in response. The saga reached boiling point on Sept. 4 after Trump displayed a map of the Dorian’s original projected trajectory while in the Oval Office that appeared to have been altered with a black marker to extend the hurricane’s path to cover Alabama.

When reporters asked him whether the map had been drawn on by a sharpie, Trump replied, “I don’t know.” Media outlets and many of Trump’s opponents slammed the president throughout the day for his claim and criticized him for allegedly altering the map.

Later in the day, Trump posted a map on Twitter saying that it proves his claim that Dorian would hit Alabama.

“This was the originally projected path of the Hurricane in its early stages. As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama,” Trump wrote. “I accept the Fake News apologies!”

As noted by Brown in his statement, National Hurricane Center forecasts on Aug. 29 and Aug. 30 did show the storm affecting southeastern Alabama.

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