A top official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reportedly sent out a memo to the agency’s employees last week telling them not to contradict President Donald Trump’s incorrect claim that Hurricane Dorian was going to hit Alabama.
According to documents obtained by the Washington Post, the official sent the warning to staffers after the National Weather Service in Birmingham corrected Trump’s false claim and assured Alabamians that their state wouldn’t be impacted by the hurricane.
The Post reported on Saturday that NOAA had also sent its scientists a similar memo after Trump flaunted a map of the hurricane’s trajectory that featured a hand-drawn bubble to include Alabama, which was reportedly drawn by Trump himself.
The memos were sent out before the NOAA released a statement on Friday backing Trump’s claim, saying that the NWS in Birmingham “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”
The NOAA came under fire for the statement, which critics (including former NOAA officials) assailed as an attempt to politicize the agency and side with the President in contradiction to what the agency’s own scientists had forecasted.
An unnamed official told the Post that there was “no political motivation” in the NOAA’s decision to release the statement and that the agency merely “needed to make sure forecast products reflect probabilistic guidance.”