US Commerce Department denies threats to fire weather forecast agency employees

11 Septembre, 2019, 01:55 | Auteur: Therese Cote
  • US Commerce Department denies threats to fire weather forecast agency employees

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting chief scientist said in an email to colleagues Sunday that he is investigating whether the agency's response to President Trump's Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) annual meeting at National Harbor near Washington, March 1, 2019.

While the NWS's Birmingham, Alabama division quickly corrected the president on September 1 without naming him, NOAA officials caused an internal uproar on September 6 when the agency issued an unsigned statement that defended Trump's false claim about Alabama and admonished the Weather Service's Birmingham division for speaking "in absolute terms".

"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".

Friday evening NOAA put out an unsigned statement saying that the tweet from NWS Birmingham, by this time a week old, was "inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time".

The world's largest general science society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said weather forecasters should not be "asked to change a weather forecast in reaction to any political pressure". "Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian". "The weather service team has my full support", Jacobs said. No one's job is under threat. But a battle over the weather service helps bring it home. Trump was basing his warning off a previous weather map, and has since defended his public warning about the danger posed to the state. "If we are going to be analyzing forecast output, we need somebody there who understands how to interpret it".

Mr Trump earlier tweeted that several states, including Alabama, "will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated".

Jacobs added that he hopes that with the current elevated interest in forecasting "will come elevated funding to overcome the challenges we face, whether it's numerical weather prediction, high-performance computing, or dissemination".

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Louis Uccellini, director of the NWS, told his agency's national conference on Monday that the Birmingham office was right to contradict Trump's remarks because they were trying to shut down rumors, the source of which they did not initially realize was the president. No NOAA Administrator I worked for would have done this.

To be sure, the Commerce secretary's name is probably unfamiliar to much of the country, but Ross, who's office denied threatening to fire anyone, has quietly positioned himself as one of the most controversial members of a presidential cabinet filled with controversial members.

"Let me be clear: The Birmingham office did this to stop public panic", he said, and "to ensure public safety".

Officials at the White House and the Commerce Department declined to comment.

Also on Tuesday, Sen.

The Department of Commerce's Office of Inspector General is examining NOAA's statement on Friday, according to the New York Times. "This statement violates NOAA's internal scientific integrity order", Shaheen wrote in a letter.

"This is the straw that broke the camel's back", said Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., who called for Ross to resign.

Alabama's two Democratic members of Congress, Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham and Sen.



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