Since the beginning of September, President Trump has argued that the projected path of tropical storm Hurricane Dorian would end up hitting Alabama, despite contradicting scientific reporting.
As of the first week of this month, Hurricane Dorian was one of the strongest recorded Atlantic storms. With wind speed at 185 miles per hour, it was categorized as a stage five tropical storm. Storms at this magnitude fall within the range of 157 miles per hour or higher, and are characterized as having catastrophic damage should they hit land.
Hurricane Dorian’s movement and growth has been heavily documented and followed in order to estimate in what areas the storm might cause damage. As its movements continue, the hurricane has been the subject of political debate on where it might strike next. At the forefront of the debate is Donald Trump.
On September 1, Trump tweeted “In addition to Florida – South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. Looking like one of the largest hurricanes ever. Already category 5. BE CAREFUL! GOD BLESS EVERYONE!”
While Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina are the states that have been issued an official hurricane warning, Birmingham National Weather Service (NWS) tweeted in reply to Trump that Alabama is not on the list of states which should be on the lookout for potential hurricane contact.
The Birmingham NWS and Trump began to go back and forth on whether or not the statement from the President was credible. When hurricane Dorian’s path was initially being tracked, there was a possibility of the storm falling into Alabama and Florida, but this was not declared as the storm’s official direction. As the storm progressed, the direction of its path has changed. Instead of heading toward the left side of Florida, which would include Alabama, the storm path has moved off towards the right, suggesting that North Carolina and South Carolina are in harm’s way.
Despite the new mapping of the storm, Trump continued to use an outdated version of the hurricane path to argue that Alabama would be hit. On September 4, to add validation to his statement, Trump held a meeting in the oval office in which he displayed the hurricane map published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) which had been extended in Sharpie pen to suggest that the storm would hit Alabama.
In its strongest stage, the storm rested upon the Northern Bahamas, as well as the Abaco Islands, causing fierce and frightening damage. Dorian has taken a total of 30 lives, with the death toll expected to increase as the damage is assessed further. The prime minister of the Bahamas stated that Dorian was “the greatest national crisis in our country’s history.”
While maps of hurricanes are constantly refreshed, Trump has so far refused to back down from his claims and has continued to state that fake news is not at play, but rather that the media needs to apologize to him for suggesting his tweet was inaccurate.