NOAA Chief Defends Controversial Statement While Expressing Support For Staffers

Neil Jacobs, acting administrator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, speaks at NOAA's 2019 Hurricane Season Outlook press conference. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
|
September 10, 2019 12:37 p.m.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration acting Administrator Neil Jacobs on Tuesday expressed support for NOAA staffers while also defending the agency’s widely-criticized statement that backed President Donald Trump’s misleading claim about Hurricane Dorian’s impact on Alabama.

Jacobs made an appearance at the 2019 National Weather Association meeting in Huntsville, Alabama. He explained to meteorologists why NOAA had released a statement rebuking the weather agency in Birmingham, Alabama last week for accurately correcting Trump’s erroneous claim that Alabama would “likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated” by the category five storm.

“The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Jacobs said. “What it did not say, however, is that we understand and fully support the good intent of the Birmingham weather forecast office, which was to calm fears in support of public safety.”

The acting NOAA chief said he was proud of all the weather forecast offices’ “outstanding work” in response to the category five storm, “including Birmingham.”

Newsletters
Get TPM in your inbox, twice weekly.
Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

“There is no pressure to change how you communicate forecast risk in the future,” Jacobs said.

Without explicitly mentioning the New York Times report that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had threatened to fire NOAA staffers (including Jacobs himself) if they didn’t refute the Birmingham office’s statement, Jacobs assured employees that “no one’s job is under threat.”

“The weather service team has my full support and the support of the department,” he said.

Watch an excerpt of Jacobs’ speech below:

Latest News
Comments are now Members-Only

Non-members are still able to read comments, but will no longer be able to participate. To join the conversation, sign up now and get:

30% Off Annual Prime Membership

TPM strives to build as inclusive a community as financially possible. We offer FREE memberships to those experiencing financial hardship and FREE memberships for students.

View all options
Comments
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Publisher:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: