In the digital age, hoaxes and disinformation pop up whenever there’s severe weather. But in the dark hellscape of 2019, the 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 our 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 Thursday when the track showed it still plowing 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.
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. The president’s “update” flies in the face of all that, especially when he’s the guy who oversees the goddamn National Hurricane Center 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.
Meanwhile, millions of Americans are still under hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings. The National Hurricane Center is warning that storm surge could top 8 feet, and some areas could see up to 15 inches of rain in the coastal Carolinas. If you live in the area, pay attention to credible sources. Namely, not the president.
Update: Trump is tweeting through it. Against all odds, he’s tripled down on his original dumb tweet with another dumb tweet showing spaghetti plots of different individual weather models. “Almost all models” from this run do not, in fact, show Dorian hitting Florida. Everything is going great.