Hurricane Dorian has moved to the sea, but a storm is still raging at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In a powerful e-mail sent to staff on Sunday evening, NOAA's senior scientist Craig McLean hired anonymous members of his own organization who may have "violated the NOAA policy of scientific integrity." McLean promised to pursue truths in a long story President Trump, Hurricane Dorian, a Sharpie, a predictor in Alabama and an anonymous – and possibly forced – press release.
This all started on September 1 President Trump tweeted that Alabama would be one of the most likely states to be hit (much) harder than expected & # 39 ;. It wasn't really that.
Twenty minutes later, the National Weather Service in Alabama tweeted his response: “Alabama will NOT see any effects from #Dorian. We repeat, no impact from Hurricane # Dorian will be felt in Alabama. The system will stay too far to the east. & # 39;
Predictors thought at one point that Dorian would come ashore in Florida, but instead the storm hit the Bahamas and grazed much of the east coast of North America before hitting in Nova Scotia and heading for the sea went.
At no time did it pose a risk to Alabama as Trump claimed it would happen. The National Weather Service forecast around the time of Trump & # 39; s tweet indicated that there was a 5 percent chance of tropical wind for a small corner of Alabama, a far cry from Trump & # 39; s warning that it "(many ) would be hit harder. "
Nevertheless, Trump doubled the wrong information. He waved an outdated map of the National Hurricane Center that appeared to be drawn with a Sharpie to falsely extend the path of the storm to Alabama. He repeated lies about Dorian during a press conference on opioids. The White House even issued a statement from an admiral who supported the president.
But the big blow for the NWS came on Friday evening, when its parent company NOAA issued an unsigned one press release saying it had provided information to Trump and the public "that tropical storms from Hurricane could affect Dorian Alabama." The anonymous letter even denounced the Birmingham, Alabama National Weather Service for hits on Trump on Twitter on September 1, saying that the tweet "spoke in absolute terms that did not match the probabilities of the best forecast products available at that time "
According to a report by The New York Times, the surprising press release was the result of threats from the Trade Minister, who threatened to dismiss senior officials on NOAA if they were not in agreement with the president.
Current NOAA employees were furious about the press release and acting senior scientist McLean seemed to be putting out many of those frustrations on Sunday.
"I understand that this intervention to contradict the predictor was not based on science, but on external factors such as reputation and appearance, or simply political," McLean said of the press release in his email. "The content of this press release is very worrying because it jeopardizes NOAA's ability to transmit life-saving information needed to prevent a substantial and specific risk to public health and safety."
The NOAA press release also immediately caught the attention of the wider weather community and former NOAA managers. "The anonymous and unfair statement tweeted by NOAA is a major violation of scientific integrity that damages the NWS and damages the leadership of the agency," Kathryn Sullivan, who led the agency under the Obama administration, told The Washington Post.
In his email, McLean praised the predictors of NWS who, he added, "offer the benefit of their own experience in announcing accurate predictions accompanied by the distinction of all credible scientists – they sign their work."
Accurate and reliable forecasts are not only important because they help prepare for the storm, they also prevent unnecessary panic in places that are not really threatened.
McLean wrote that he will continue to look at his desk Administrative decision on scientific integrity has been violated. "Our NOAA policy for scientific integrity and our Code of Conduct make it clear that all NOAA employees will approach all scientific activities fairly, objectively and fully, without loyalty to individuals, organizations or ideology," he said.