President Donald Trump is denying any suggestion he or his acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney tried to get federal government forecasters to disavow their work, calling it a hoax and fake news. The forecasts showed there was a miniscule chance Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama.
A U.S. House panel on Wednesday opened an investigation into U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' potential role in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's decision to rebuke an Alabama weather service office for dismissing a warning on Twitter from President Donald Trump about Hurricane Dorian.
Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the Democrat who chairs the Science, Space and Technology Committee, said in a letter Wednesday to Ross that in an apparent effort to back Trump's "incorrect tweet ... Commerce officials may have taken a number of steps to pressurize NOAA into supporting the president's assertions."
Trump wrote on Twitter on Sept. 1 that "in addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated" by Dorian, then one of the most powerful Atlantic storms ever.
The NWS Birmingham office responded on Twitter 20 minutes later writing: "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."
After days of controversy, NOAA -- which is part of the Commerce Department -- on Friday released an unsigned statement Friday that suggested the Birmingham tweet "spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."