In the digital age, hoaxes and disinformation pop up whenever there’s severe weather. But in the dark hellscape of 2019, the U.S. president is now a prime purveyor of weather disinformation.
Over the weekend, Trump tweeted that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama. It did not. And the National Weather Service was quick to subtweet as much. This sad episode would all be behind us if it wasn’t for Trump using the Oval Office as a backdrop to double down on his utter stupidity.
On Wednesday, the White House published a video on Twitter with the president giving an “update” on Dorian. The storm is currently churning off the coast of Florida and should hug the East Coast through the end of this week before turning out to sea somewhere near the Mid-Atlantic.
But because the blubbering dingus that is the American president can never be seen as wrong or weak, he used the update not to warn Americans in Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas of the potential for heavy rainfall and menacing storm surge, but as a way to soothe his own ego.
Trump had an aide pull up a printout of the Dorian forecast from last week when the track showed it still ploughing into Florida. But even that forecast didn’t include Alabama in the cone of probability. So someone (the president?) decided to extend the cone with what appears to be a hand-drawn addition into Alabama.
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) September 4, 2019
This update was meant for an audience of one: the guy giving it. While Trump may have felt better about his Bad Tweet, his pretend update wasted time that could be better spent helping inform people still in harm’s way or talking about how the U.S. will help the Bahamas’ islands ravaged by Dorian when the storm was at its peak.
Meteorologists were unimpressed and rightfully found the “update” downright dangerous. While they don’t take a Hippocratic oath or anything that formal, many forecasters have devoted their lives to trying to save people’s lives in the face of dangerous weather.
Trump’s “update” flies in the face of all that, especially when he’s the guy who oversees the goddamn U.S. National Hurricane Centre and has access to the best available science and forecast. He could warn the millions of people still at risk of being impacted by Dorian to heed warnings and evacuation orders. But instead, he had to protect his fee-fees.
Imagine having an ego so big that instead of just saying "My tweet including Alabama was incorrect", you take a days old forecast, take a sharpie and extend the forecast to Alabama yourself. Not a single expert in that field said Alabama was at risk. Let it go. https://t.co/AKyMkwEvew
— Bryan Wood (@bryanwx) September 4, 2019
Many people are now noticing this guy has no business running the country. https://t.co/xJonqhM2Vo
— Ian Livingston (@islivingston) September 4, 2019
Brb, screaming into the void.
I have so much more to say about this, but many others have got it covered & all I really want to do right now is alternately laugh and scream in shear frustration/rage at how truly unacceptable & awful this is. https://t.co/3mhxCFk0nw
— Becky DePodwin (@wx_becks) September 4, 2019
This is actually really serious. Because you know what this does? This erodes trust in people like the NHC or meteorologists in general. It politicizes a forecast. And that has dangerous implications among the 30% of the population that would follow this man off a cliff.
— Matt Lanza (@mattlanza) September 4, 2019
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still under hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings. The National Hurricane Centre is warning that storm surge could top 2.4 metres, and some areas could see up to 38 centimetres of rain in the coastal Carolinas.