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Westlake Legal Group > National Weather Service

California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates

Here’s what you need to know:

Video

Westlake Legal Group 29fires-01sub-videoSixteenByNine3000-v4 California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

A forecast of powerful winds and low humidity was expected to worsen conditions for the fires that are burning in Northern and Southern California.CreditCredit…Eric Thayer for The New York Times

The worst kind of weather for wildfires — strong, gusty winds and very low humidity — is returning on Tuesday after a relative respite on Monday, the National Weather Service said, raising the prospect of more fire outbreaks and rapid growth of the blazes that are already burning.

The agency has posted “red flag” warnings for most of Northern California and much of Southern California, taking effect at various times on Tuesday.

Forecasters are predicting winds between 50 m.ph. and 70 m.p.h. in Los Angeles County and Ventura County starting late Tuesday and continuing on Wednesday and Thursday, with some gusts up to 80 m.p.h. in the mountainous areas of Los Angeles County, the National Weather Service said. The scale for Category 1 hurricanes begins at 74 m.p.h.

[Read more about how climate change could shift California’s winds.]

Winds gusts of up to 60 miles an hour could be expected beginning in the morning over a vast stretch of the state from the Sierras to the Pacific and from the southern fringes of the Bay Area north nearly to the Oregon border, except for coastal areas north of Sonoma County.

The winds, known as Santa Anas in the southern part of the state and Diablos in the north, arrive regularly in the fall. Recent research suggests that as the climate warms, Santa Ana winds may become less frequent. Coupled with precipitation changes, that could mean more intense fires later in the year.

Red-flag weather has played an important role in driving the growth of the Kincade, Getty and other fires, and has prompted pre-emptive blackouts by utility companies hoping to keep wind-damaged power lines and equipment from touching off more blazes.

[ The New York Times has photographers on the ground, documenting the California wildfires and the battle to contain them. Follow their work here. ]

Hundreds of firefighters mobilized to fight the Kincade fire gathered in the morning darkness on Tuesday for a briefing at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. Crowded into an event hall in navy blue uniforms and yellow jackets, they listened as commanders took stock: Monday had been a good day.

The wind had died down, allowing for a real attack on the fire, which is now 15 percent contained. But today was going to be difficult, the crews were told.

“We’re going to be wind-tested again,” Ben Nichols, a representative from Cal Fire, told them. The breeze was supposed to get particularly powerful in the afternoon and evening, hurling hot embers toward dry areas and threatening the many houses tucked into the wooded areas of Sonoma County. Protecting those houses would be a major priority.

Many of the firefighters have been on the line for days, and some have worked as many as 36 hours at a stretch with no rest. Top officials warned them against fatigue.

Think things through, they were told. Have an escape plan. Throw out lunches that have gone bad after days in the truck. Don’t let sickness get in the way of work. And get ready for the wind.

Tuesday, said Mike Blankenheim of Cal Fire, was going to be a “max effort day.”

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163492827_9be556f9-629e-471b-a68e-4b1578143d7e-articleLarge California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

A firefighter worked on a hot spot in Windsor, Calif., on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The Kincade fire has grown to more than 74,000 acres but is now 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire, the state firefighting and fire prevention agency. It has destroyed more than than 120 structures and damaged another 20.

As the Kincade and Getty fires raged through dry vegetation at opposite ends of California on Monday, they raised fears that the state’s vicious wildfire season was straining the resources of fire departments that are already spread out battling 16 fires across the state, pushing fire crews beyond the brink of exhaustion.

“It’s all starting to blend together,” said Joe Augino, a firefighter with the Arcadia Fire Department in Southern California who had just finished battling a wildfire in the canyons north of Los Angeles last week when his company was summoned to travel eight hours to the north to help fight the Kincade fire in Sonoma County.

On a winding road near the front lines of the Kincade fire, where about 156,000 people remained under mandatory evacuation orders, Mr. Augino and his fellow firefighters were extinguishing spot fires with water and hand tools.

We’re continuing to update our page of maps showing the extent of the fires, power outages and evacuation zones. Data from Cal Fire shows how the Kincade fire in Northern California has spread and where it is burning most intensely. Satellite images pinpoint the Getty and Tick fires and affected areas nearby.

Westlake Legal Group california-fire-map-promo-1572020277850-articleLarge-v8 California Fires Fanned by Strong Winds: Live Updates Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

Maps: Kincade and Getty Fires, Evacuation Zones and Power Outages

Detailed maps show the current fire extents, power outage zones and areas under evacuation orders.

Fernanda Santos, a former New York Times correspondent based in Phoenix, is the author of “The Fire Line,” the story of 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire in 2013.

It is an arresting scene, the dangers unimaginable: Firefighters clad in yellow and green flame-resistant uniforms, battling a wind-whipped and fast-moving blaze with what amount to farming and logging tools.

Fighting fires — including immense untamed wildfires — requires a combination of brutal force, endurance and skill. From the air, firefighters may release water and fire retardant, which can slow its spread but will not extinguish the raging flames. The most effective man-made way to contain a wildfire is to box it inside buffer zones that are absent of everything that burns — a laborious, intense pursuit that requires clearing the land.

Members of a 20-person crew work in a line, hacking at the hardened ground, chopping down trees, yanking out roots and sawing down undergrowth. It is a carefully choreographed ballet, where one person’s movements affect the next’s.

“Imagine, if you can, 16-hour days of manual labor where you’re hustling all the time, and you do it oftentimes for 14 days straight,” said Doug Harwood, a firefighter in the city of Prescott, Ariz., who spent years fighting wildfires in the Western United States.

The mechanics of the job have not changed considerably since 1910, when a monster wildfire known as the Big Burn devoured 3 million acres and killed 85 people across three Northwestern states, and a United States Forest Service ranger named Ed Pulaski returned from obscurity a handy tool that can both dig soil and chop wood.

The Pulaski, as it is known, combines an ax and an adz in one head, and is now arguably the most important piece of equipment in wildfire suppression.

Alan Sinclair, who commands one of 16 teams trained to manage the most challenging wildfires in the United States, said team leaders have to weigh the risks of clearing land when flames may be racing toward them. At some point, it may be too risky, he said.

Communities can help, he said, by working together to create buffer zones around them, what is known as “defensible space,” before a fire strikes.

“It’s really hard for firefighters to go into an area where no work has been done and be expected to save the neighborhood,” Mr. Sinclair said.

Power companies across the state warned that power could be cut pre-emptively because of worsening weather conditions.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it would shut off power to an additional 600,000 customers in 29 counties in Northern California on Tuesday and Wednesday because of the danger that wind-damaged lines or equipment could cause more fires. Some 500,000 PG&E customers were still blacked out from previous shut-offs, and the company said it could be several days before power is restored.

In and around Los Angeles, Southern California Edison said on Tuesday morning that as many as 205,000 customers could be affected by safety-related shutoffs, but that so far only a few hundred had been blacked out.

San Diego Gas & Electric warned that shutoffs may become necessary in some inland areas east and northeast of the city, but none had been imposed yet.

A new state web portal includes links to updated information on the power outages, as well as shelters and housing, road conditions and other information related to the fires, compiled by state agencies like Cal Fire and Caltrans.

As ashen skies, raging wildfires and blackouts blanket areas of Northern and Southern California, many residents and evacuees are relying on Twitter hashtags for up-to-date information about their homes, loved ones, road closures and further evacuations.

Over the past week, “Kincadefire,” “Gettyfire,” “Tickfire,” “Skyfire” and “Sawdayfire”— the names of the wildfires — have become popular search terms on social media. But often there is confusion as to where their names come from.

As opposed to the predetermined list of names provided for hurricanes, wildfires are named by officials according to the location or local landmark, including streets, lakes and mountains, where the fire broke out. Fires often go without names if they are too small.

“Quickly naming the fire provides responding fire resources with an additional locator, and allows fire officials to track and prioritize incidents by name,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

If there is a long human presence in the area, there’s no challenge in finding a name — officials just draw from geographically local, named landmarks, according to Susie Kocher, a Natural Resources Advisor at the University of California.

The 2003 San Diego Cedar fire, one of the state’s largest wildland fires in history, unsurprisingly spread across the Cedar Creek Falls area. It burned over 270,000 acres, destroyed more 2,200 homes and killed 14 civilians and one firefighter.

But when it comes to naming there are always weird exceptions. The 416 Fire, for example, burned more than 50,000 acres in Colorado in 2018. Why 416? According to the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center, it was after a “system-generated number” that represented the 416th “incident” in the San Juan National Forest that year.

Another curious choice was in 2015, when fire officials in southeast Idaho ran out of naming ideas following the outbreak of a swarm of fires; for a fire with few landmarks nearby, they went with “Not Creative.

The Kincade fire in Sonoma County, which had burned more than 66,000 acres and has displaced nearly 200,000 residents as of Monday night, has proved challenging to remember for journalists and people on social media alike.

Misspellings online include Kincaid, Kincaide, Kinkade and Kinkaid.


Reporting was contributed by Adeel Hassan, Liam Stack, Sarah Mervosh and Vanessa Swales.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

California Fires Live Updates: Getty Fire Fanned by Strong Winds

Here’s what you need to know:

ImageWestlake Legal Group merlin_163492827_9be556f9-629e-471b-a68e-4b1578143d7e-articleLarge California Fires Live Updates: Getty Fire Fanned by Strong Winds Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

A firefighter worked on a hot spot in Windsor, Calif., on Monday.Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The worst kind of weather for wildfires — strong, gusty winds and very low humidity — is returning on Tuesday after a relative respite on Monday, the National Weather Service said, raising the prospect of more fire outbreaks and rapid growth of the blazes that are already burning.

The agency has posted “red flag” warnings for most of Northern California and much of Southern California, taking effect at various times on Tuesday.

Forecasters are predicting winds between 50 m.ph. and 70 m.p.h. in Los Angeles County and Ventura County on Wednesday and Thursday, with some gusts up to 80 m.p.h. in the mountainous areas of Los Angeles and Santa Monica counties, the National Weather Service said. The scale for Category 1 hurricanes begins at 74 m.p.h.

Winds gusts of up to 60 miles an hour could be expected beginning in the morning over a vast stretch of the state from the Sierras to the Pacific and from the southern fringes of the Bay Area north nearly to the Oregon border, except for coastal areas north of Sonoma County.

The winds, known as Santa Anas in the southern part of the state and Diablos in the north, arrive regularly in the fall. Recent research suggests that as the climate warms, Santa Ana winds may become less frequent. Coupled with precipitation changes, that could mean more intense fires later in the year.

[Read more about how climate change could shift California’s winds.]

Red-flag weather has played an important role in driving the growth of the Kincade, Getty and other fires, and has prompted pre-emptive blackouts by utility companies hoping to keep wind-damaged power lines and equipment from touching off more blazes.

[ The New York Times has photographers on the ground, documenting the California wildfires and the battle to contain them. Follow their work here. ]

The Kincade fire has grown to more than 74,000 acres but is now 15 percent contained, according to Cal Fire, the state firefighting and fire prevention agency. It has destroyed more than than 120 structures and damaged another 20.

As the Kincade and Getty fires raged through dry vegetation at opposite ends of California on Monday, they raised fears that the state’s vicious wildfire season was straining the resources of fire departments that are already spread out battling 16 fires across the state, pushing fire crews beyond the brink of exhaustion.

“It’s all starting to blend together,” said Joe Augino, a firefighter with the Arcadia Fire Department in Southern California who had just finished battling a wildfire in the canyons north of Los Angeles last week when his company was summoned to travel eight hours to the north to help fight the Kincade fire in Sonoma County.

With no rain in the forecast, a brief break in the ferocious winds on Monday offered Mr. Augino’s crew and other firefighters a tiny but crucial window to try to gain control over the fast-spreading fires. But forecasters warned that the respite would not last and that wind gusts would grow to 50 or 60 miles per hour by Tuesday.

On a winding road near the front lines of the Kincade fire, where about 156,000 people remained under mandatory evacuation orders, Mr. Augino and his fellow firefighters were extinguishing spot fires with water and hand tools.

We’re continuing to update our page of maps showing the extent of the fires, power outages and evacuation zones. Data from Cal Fire shows how the Kincade fire in Northern California has spread and where it is burning most intensely. Satellite images pinpoint the Getty and Tick fires and affected areas nearby.

Westlake Legal Group california-fire-map-promo-1572020277850-articleLarge-v8 California Fires Live Updates: Getty Fire Fanned by Strong Winds Wind Wildfires Weather Protective Clothing and Gear National Weather Service Forests and Forestry Fires and Firefighters Environmental Protection Agency California Cal Fire

Maps: Kincade and Getty Fires, Evacuation Zones and Power Outages

Detailed maps show the current fire extents, power outage zones and areas under evacuation orders.

Fernanda Santos, a former New York Times correspondent based in Phoenix, is the author of “The Fire Line,” the story of 19 firefighters killed in an Arizona wildfire in 2013.

It is an arresting scene, the dangers unimaginable: Firefighters clad in yellow and green flame-resistant uniforms, battling a wind-whipped and fast-moving blaze with what amount to farming and logging tools.

Fighting fires — including immense untamed wildfires — requires a combination of brutal force, endurance and skill. From the air, firefighters may release water and fire retardant, which can slow its spread but will not extinguish the raging flames. The most effective man-made way to contain a wildfire is to box it inside buffer zones that are absent of everything that burns — a laborious, intense pursuit that requires clearing the land.

Members of a 20-person crew work in a line, hacking at the hardened ground, chopping down trees, yanking out roots and sawing down undergrowth. It is a carefully choreographed ballet, where one person’s movements affect the next’s.

“Imagine, if you can, 16-hour days of manual labor where you’re hustling all the time, and you do it oftentimes for 14 days straight,” said Doug Harwood, a firefighter in the city of Prescott, Ariz., who spent years fighting wildfires in the Western United States.

The mechanics of the job have not changed considerably since 1910, when a monster wildfire known as the Big Burn devoured 3 million acres and killed 85 people across three Northwestern states, and a United States Forest Service ranger named Ed Pulaski returned from obscurity a handy tool that can both dig soil and chop wood.

The Pulaski, as it is known, combines an ax and an adz in one head, and is now arguably the most important piece of equipment in wildfire suppression.

Alan Sinclair, who commands one of 16 teams trained to manage the most challenging wildfires in the United States, said team leaders have to weigh the risks of clearing land when flames may be racing toward them. At some point, it may be too risky, he said.

Communities can help, he said, by working together to create buffer zones around them, what is known as “defensible space,” before a fire strikes.

“It’s really hard for firefighters to go into an area where no work has been done and be expected to save the neighborhood,” Mr. Sinclair said.

With wildfires raging up and down California, smoke filled the air in many places, ash fell from the sky, and residents were once again left to wonder whether the very air they were breathing was safe. Here is what you need to know about the air quality in the state.

Air quality is graded on a color-coded scale, with green for good quality, and yellow, orange, red, and purple representing increasingly significant risks.

After the Getty fire broke out on Monday, the Los Angeles area was experiencing moderately hazardous conditions — in the yellow category — with some locations recording air that was unhealthy for sensitive groups, coded orange. The Bay Area was also experiencing conditions in the orange range.

In general, wildfires come with a risk of breathing particulate matter, tiny pollutants too small to see individually that can cause a range of harmful effects when inhaled into the lungs.

Young children, older adults, people with asthma and people with pre-existing conditions are most at risk, but pollution from smoky air can affect even healthy adults.

When the air quality is poor, health experts recommend staying inside, closing windows to keep out smoky air, and using an air-conditioner with a recirculation option, if possible. If you must go outside, experts recommend using a mask designed to keep out particulate matter.

A surgical mask, scarf or bandanna will not do much to filter out many pollutants. Instead, experts recommend a respirator mask, such as a N95 face mask, which is designed to filter out 95 percent of airborne particles.

The current and forecast air quality conditions anywhere in the United States can be checked on AirNow.gov, a website set up by the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies.

While dry eyes and a scratchy throat may simply be a reaction to low humidity in fire-prone areas, a cough, shortness of breath or lightheadedness could also be a symptom of something more serious, said Dr. Kathryn Melamed, a pulmonologist at U.C.L.A.

As ashen skies, raging wildfires and blackouts blanket areas of Northern and Southern California, many residents and evacuees are relying on Twitter hashtags for up-to-date information about their homes, loved ones, road closures and further evacuations.

Over the past week, “Kincadefire,” “Gettyfire,” “Tickfire,” “Skyfire” and “Sawdayfire”— the names of the wildfires — have become popular search terms on social media. But often there is confusion as to where their names come from.

As opposed to the predetermined list of names provided for hurricanes, wildfires are named by officials according to the location or local landmark, including streets, lakes and mountains, where the fire broke out. Fires often go without names if they are too small.

“Quickly naming the fire provides responding fire resources with an additional locator, and allows fire officials to track and prioritize incidents by name,” the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

If there is a long human presence in the area, there’s no challenge in finding a name — officials just draw from geographically local, named landmarks, according to Susie Kocher, a Natural Resources Advisor at the University of California.

The 2003 San Diego Cedar fire, one of the state’s largest wildland fires in history, unsurprisingly spread across the Cedar Creek Falls area. It burned over 270,000 acres, destroyed more 2,200 homes and killed 14 civilians and one firefighter.

But when it comes to naming there are always weird exceptions. The 416 Fire, for example, burned more than 50,000 acres in Colorado in 2018. Why 416? According to the Durango Interagency Dispatch Center, it was after a “system-generated number” that represented the 416th “incident” in the San Juan National Forest that year.

Another curious choice was in 2015, when fire officials in southeast Idaho ran out of naming ideas following the outbreak of a swarm of fires; for a fire with few landmarks nearby, they went with “Not Creative.

The Kincade fire in Sonoma County, which had burned more than 66,000 acres and has displaced nearly 200,000 residents as of Monday night, has proved challenging to remember for journalists and people on social media alike.

Misspellings online include Kincaid, Kincaide, Kinkade and Kinkaid.


Reporting was contributed by Adeel Hassan, Liam Stack, Sarah Mervosh and Vanessa Swales.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mulvaney, Mick Jacobs, Neil Hurricane Dorian (2019) Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mulvaney, Mick Jacobs, Neil Hurricane Dorian (2019) Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 Trump Pressed Top Aide to Have Weather Service ‘Clarify’ Forecast That Contradicted Trump Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mulvaney, Mick Jacobs, Neil Hurricane Dorian (2019) Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — President Trump, seeking to justify his claim of a hurricane threat to Alabama, pressed aides to intervene with a federal scientific agency, leading to a highly unusual public rebuke of the forecasters who contradicted him, according to people familiar with the events.

In response to the president’s request, Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration publicly correct the forecasters, who had insisted that Alabama was not actually at risk from Hurricane Dorian.

A senior administration official, who asked not to be identified discussing internal matters, said Mr. Trump told his staff to have NOAA “clarify” the forecasters’ position. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, then issued an unsigned statement saying the Birmingham, Ala., office of the National Weather Service was wrong to refute the president’s warning so categorically.

But the statement only exacerbated the uproar over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction as critics accused his administration of politicizing the weather. The Commerce Department inspector general has opened an investigation, and on Wednesday, a Democrat-controlled House science committee kicked off its own inquiry.

As a result, the furor over Mr. Trump’s storm prediction has evolved from a momentary embarrassment into a sustained political liability for the administration — no longer just a question of a president unwilling to admit a mistake but now a White House willing to force scientists to validate it.

The New York Times reported this week that Mr. Ross warned NOAA’s acting administrator that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation were not addressed. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone. A senior official on Wednesday said that if Mr. Ross did make such threats, it was not at the direction of Mr. Mulvaney.

After The Times disclosed Mr. Mulvaney’s role on Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that he was acting at Mr. Trump’s direction, which the senior official confirmed to The Times. But when Mr. Trump was asked by a reporter if he told his chief of staff to instruct NOAA to “disavow those forecasters,” he denied it.

“No, I never did that,” Mr. Trump said. “I never did that. That’s a whole hoax by the fake news media. When they talk about the hurricane and when they talk about Florida and they talk about Alabama, that’s just fake news. It was — right from the beginning, it was a fake story.”

The White House had no comment beyond the president’s remarks. The senior official made a distinction between telling NOAA to “disavow” the forecast and “clarify” it. The White House argument was that the forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been models showing possible impact on Alabama.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intruding in the professional weather forecasting system to rationalize an inaccurate presidential assertion. In opening its investigation, the Commerce Department’s inspector general said the events could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology expressed similar concerns as it announced its own investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions on Wednesday.

“We are deeply disturbed by the politicization of NOAA’s weather forecast activities for the purpose of supporting incorrect statements by the president,” wrote Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the chairwoman of the committee, along with Representative Mikie Sherrill, the chairman of its oversight panel.

The latest challenge to Mr. Trump’s credibility has its origins in one of the more prosaic duties a president has, warning the nation when natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian threaten communities.

On Sept. 1, as Dorian gathered strength over the Atlantic and headed toward the east coast, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” Earlier forecast maps had suggested that Alabama might see some effects from the edge of the storm, but by the time of the president’s tweet, the predictions had already changed.

A few minutes after Mr. Trump’s tweet, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted its own message on Twitter flatly declaring that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.” The forecasters were correct; Alabama was not struck by the hurricane.

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump was furious at being challenged and kept insisting for days that he had been right. He displayed or posted outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might still be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

After Mr. Trump told his staff on Sept. 5 to address the matter, Mr. Mulvaney called Mr. Ross, who was in Greece traveling for meetings. Mr. Ross then called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, at home around 3 a.m. on Friday morning Washington time and instructed him to clear up the agency’s contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode. The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday faulted the Birmingham office for a tweet that “spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. 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.”

Unassuaged, the House science committee has demanded documents and information related to the NOAA statement and its origins.

In addition to emails, memos, text messages and records of telephone calls, the committee asked Mr. Ross to answer a number of questions, including whether any representative of the Executive Office of the President directed NOAA to issue Friday’s statement or specify the language in it.

They also reminded Mr. Ross of statements that he made under oath in his confirmation hearing that he would not interfere with science, particularly at NOAA, which in addition to weather forecasting is the agency responsible for understanding and predicting changes in the earth’s climate.

“Science should be done by scientists,” Mr. Ross testified in that January 2017 hearing. “I support the release of factual scientific data.”

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White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump

Westlake Legal Group 11dc-storm-promo-facebookJumbo-v2 White House Pressed Agency to Repudiate Weather Forecasters Who Contradicted Trump Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Ross, Wilbur L Jr National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Mulvaney, Mick Jacobs, Neil Hurricane Dorian (2019) Commerce Department

WASHINGTON — The White House was directly involved in pressing a federal scientific agency to repudiate the weather forecasters who contradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian would probably strike Alabama, according to several people familiar with the events.

Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, told Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to have the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publicly disavow the forecasters’ position that Alabama was not at risk. NOAA, which is part of the Commerce Department, issued an unsigned statement last Friday in response, saying that the Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning.

In pressing NOAA’s acting administrator to take action, Mr. Ross warned that top employees at the agency could be fired if the situation was not addressed, The New York Times previously reported. Mr. Ross’s spokesman has denied that he threatened to fire anyone, and a senior administration official on Wednesday said Mr. Mulvaney did not tell the commerce secretary to make such a threat.

The release of the NOAA statement provoked complaints that the Trump administration was improperly intervening in the professional weather forecasting system to justify the president’s mistaken assertion. The Commerce Department’s inspector general is investigating how that statement came to be issued, saying it could call into question scientific independence.

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which is controlled by Democrats, announced on Wednesday that it too has opened an investigation into Mr. Ross’s actions.

The White House had no immediate comment on Wednesday, but the senior administration official said Mr. Mulvaney was interested in having the record corrected because, in his view, the Birmingham forecasters had gone too far and the president was right to suggest there had been forecasts showing possible impact on Alabama.

Mr. Trump was furious at being contradicted by the forecasters in Alabama. On Sept. 1, the president wrote on Twitter that Alabama “will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated.” A few minutes later, the National Weather Service in Birmingham posted on Twitter that “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian. We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

For nearly a week, Mr. Trump kept insisting he was right, displaying outdated maps, including one that had been apparently altered with a Sharpie pen to make it look like Alabama might be in the path of the storm. He had his homeland security adviser release a statement backing him up.

Mr. Ross called Neil Jacobs, the acting administrator of NOAA, from Greece where the secretary was traveling for meetings, and instructed Dr. Jacobs to fix the agency’s perceived contradiction of the president, according to three people informed about the discussions.

Dr. Jacobs objected to the demand and was told that the political appointees at NOAA would be fired if the situation was not fixed, according to the three individuals, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the episode.

The political staff at an agency typically includes a handful of top officials, such as Dr. Jacobs, and their aides. They are appointed to their jobs by the administration currently in power, as opposed to career government employees, who remain in their jobs as administrations come and go.

The statement NOAA ultimately issued later on Friday called the Birmingham office’s statement “inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time.”

Dr. Jacobs has since sought to reassure his work force and the broader scientific community concerned about political interference.

“This administration is committed to the important mission of weather forecasting,” Dr. Jacobs told a weather conference in Huntsville, Ala., on Tuesday. “There is no pressure to change the way you communicate or forecast risk in the future.”

In the speech, Dr. Jacobs praised Mr. Trump, calling him “genuinely interested in improving weather forecasts,” and echoed the president’s position that Dorian initially threatened Alabama. “At one point, Alabama was in the mix, as was the rest of the Southeast.”

He also said he still had faith in the Birmingham office. “The purpose of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian,” Dr. 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.”

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Wilbur Ross Slaps Down Resistance Hurricane Hijinks and the Left Goes Bonkers

Westlake Legal Group AP_17285648923019-620x423 Wilbur Ross Slaps Down Resistance Hurricane Hijinks and the Left Goes Bonkers wilbur ross the resistance Politics noaa National Weather Service Hurricane Dorian Government Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump Department of Commerce democrats Allow Media Exception Alabama

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appears before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to discuss preparing for the 2020 Census, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017. The Trump administration acknowledged on Thursday that billions more dollars are “urgently needed” to ensure a fair and accurate count during the 2020 Census. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Hurricane Dorian has provided one of the stupidest events I believe I’ve ever witnessed. Not only did we get a chance to see the “climate isn’t weather” goons in full bloom after a forecast that Florida was going to be hit within 24 hours turned out to be spectacularly wrong, we got a chance to see our national media at war with President Trump over him merely reiterating a forecast by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

On September 1, President Trump mentioned that Alabama might possibly be hit heavier by Hurricane Dorian than expected.

While the public NOAA forecasts until August 31 showed Alabama in the danger zone of the projected track, by September 1 the projected track had hung a sharp right turn and was paralleling the Eastern Seaboard.

Later that day, the forces of the #Resistance sprang into action

They claim they were being inundated by calls but that doesn’t pass the smell test. There is exactly one reason that a regional NOAA office would interject itself into a presidential conversation, some little Resistance toad taking the opportunity to try to make the President look bad for political reasons. Questions could have been answered by simply repeating the current forecast, if we believe enough people actually knew there is a National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama, to actually make a difference in call volume. Later that day, NOAA headquarters issued a directive that they were not to offer opinions but were to stick with official NOAA forecasts…which, if they’d done that there would have been no controversy.

Instead of this being the nothingburger that it was, there was a perfect marriage of the climate change dunces who are still all gritty-panties over Trump calling bullsh** on their gravy train and their media enablers. The Alabama tweet became an exhibit in their Trump-is-stupid campaign. Trump dug in and I think on September 4 executed a trolling maneuver that went wrong. My assessment is that Trump and his advisers misread just how freakin stupid and vicious there opposition was and there was this incident:

To me, this is a pretty obvious poke at the controversy. With the White House graphics department available, it would have been child’s play to extend the line of hurricane effects had they intended for anyone to take it seriously. But they hadn’t counted on the sheer nitwittery of the people who hate Trump. By now, there was a range of morons claiming that Trump had broken federal law by issuing a fake weather forecast. In this case, issuing meant that it had never been issued and forecast meant that it was a single map with a Sharpie markings that was four days old.

By Friday, the White House was taking the damage seriously. A national security council staffer, Rear Admiral Peter Brown, issued a statement

The White House circulated a statement on official letterhead from Rear Adm. Peter Brown, a Homeland Security and counterterrorism adviser, who said he briefed Trump multiple times about Dorian as well as models that showed the potential path of the eye of the storm.

“These products showed possible storm impacts well outside the official forecast cone,” Brown said.

“While speaking to the press on Sunday, Sept. 1, the President addressed Hurricane Dorian and its potential impact on multiple states, including Alabama,” he continued. “The president’s comments were based on that morning’s Hurricane Dorian briefing, which included the possibility of tropical storm force winds in southeastern Alabama.”

The statement marked an escalation of the White House’s efforts to defend Trump’s assertion that Alabama would be hit by the storm, despite a National Weather Service tweet stating otherwise. It came days after Trump originally made the claim and as the storm lashed the Carolinas on Thursday with heavy rain, intense wind and tornadoes.

Brown noted that Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas were originally predicted to fall in Dorian’s path, but that the storm shifted track.

He also referenced forecasts from the National Hurricane Center from Aug. 27 through Sept. 2, noting they did show a chance of tropical storm force winds hitting parts of Alabama.

And NOAA issued this statement:

From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama.

Now the story breaks that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross intervened, personally, to un-screw this mess.

The Secretary of Commerce threatened to fire top employees at the federal scientific agency responsible for weather forecasts last Friday after the agency’s Birmingham officecontradicted President Trump’s claim that Hurricane Dorian might hit Alabama, according to three people familiar with the discussion.

You would have thought the world had ended:

Ross’s spokesman denies the story and the Commerce IG is investigating (this is literally a nothingburger beyond throwing a bone to the Resistance), but even if it is true, so f***ing what?

Political appointees are totally at-will employees and can be fired because you don’t like the color of lipstick or the style of shoes. If they don’t want to do what they’ve been told to do, they can quit in protest. Ross was well within his rights to bring the hammer down on a weak and gutless leadership team that not only allowed a field office to actively try to make President Trump look bad but stood by, while in possession of evidence that proved the silliness of the whole matter, and let it dominate a news cycle for a week. The real scandal is that these people are still employed and that the Birmingham NWS office hasn’t felt any negative repercussions for this douchebaggery. The reaction Ross drew is a function of him upping the ante for rogue federal emp

I must admit, I’ve had my doubts about how strong a secretary Ross actually is, but this shows that no matter how slow moving he appears, he can be motivated to crack the whip.

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The post Wilbur Ross Slaps Down Resistance Hurricane Hijinks and the Left Goes Bonkers appeared first on RedState.

Westlake Legal Group AP_17285648923019-300x205 Wilbur Ross Slaps Down Resistance Hurricane Hijinks and the Left Goes Bonkers wilbur ross the resistance Politics noaa National Weather Service Hurricane Dorian Government Front Page Stories Featured Story donald trump Department of Commerce democrats Allow Media Exception Alabama   Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked

Westlake Legal Group merlin_160193625_7150617c-bc42-4cac-9e83-7a70074d9efe-facebookJumbo A Presidential Storm Leaves Forecasters Rebuked Weather United States Politics and Government Trump, Donald J Social Media News and News Media National Weather Service National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Hurricane Dorian (2019)

WASHINGTON — The hurricane was accelerating away from the Mid-Atlantic coast. In the Bahamas, victims were picking through the devastation. In the Southeast, they were cleaning up debris. And in Washington, President Trump waged war over his forecasting skills.

On Friday, for the sixth straight day, Mr. Trump continued his relentless campaign to prove that he was right when he predicted that Hurricane Dorian could hit Alabama regardless of what the scientists said, a quest that has come to consume his White House and put his veracity to the test.

And once again, Mr. Trump’s government came to his aid. Late Friday afternoon, the parent agency of the National Weather Service issued a statement declaring that its Birmingham, Ala., office was wrong to dispute the president’s warning that Alabama “will most likely be hit” by the hurricane despite forecasts to the contrary.

“The Birmingham National Weather Service’s Sunday morning tweet spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time,” the parent agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, said in the statement.

Neither the White House nor NOAA responded to inquiries about whether the statement was issued at the direction or in consultation with the president’s aides. But it followed a concerted effort by Mr. Trump and his team to use the levers of government to back up a presidential claim that has been widely discredited and ridiculed, including posting outdated weather maps and having his homeland security adviser issue a statement backing him.

“The Fake News Media was fixated on the fact that I properly said, at the beginnings of Hurricane Dorian, that in addition to Florida & other states, Alabama may also be grazed or hit,” he wrote. “They went Crazy, hoping against hope that I made a mistake (which I didn’t). Check out maps.”

“This nonsense has never happened to another President,” he added. “Four days of corrupt reporting, still without an apology.”

Never one to back down from a challenge, Mr. Trump has made Alabama the latest battlefield in his forever war with the news media, the opposition, the experts and the establishment — one more example of insisting on his version of reality over any other. Nuance is lost. Whatever merits there may have been to his original statement, he finds it impossible to back down or brush it off as imprecise wording. Where other presidents would have dropped the matter rather than give it air, Mr. Trump extended the story for nearly a week.

But even in an administration known for defying forecasts, the wayward prediction of an unpredictable president has dominated the national conversation, despite how little would seem to be at stake politically.

It started on Sunday when the president warned on Twitter that Alabama, among other states, could be hit by the storm “(much) harder than anticipated.”

In an attempt to head off panic, the Birmingham forecasters quickly sent out their own tweet, assuring residents that they were not, in fact, in harm’s way. “Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” the local office wrote. “We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama.”

Angry at the mockery that followed, particularly on cable television and social media, Mr. Trump has ever since sought to justify his contentions to the point that he even called on his homeland security secretary to display a map in the Oval Office that appeared to have been altered by a black Sharpie pen to suggest Alabama was in the potential path of the storm.

As so often happens in Washington, a serious dispute eventually devolved into fund-raising. Mr. Trump’s campaign sought to capitalize on the attention by offering to sell pens with the president’s signature on them; a set of five went for $15.

“Buy the official Trump marker, which is different than every other marker on the market, because this one has the special ability to drive @CNN and the rest of the fake news crazy!” Brad Parscale, the president’s campaign manager, tweeted, adding the hashtag: “#KeepMarkersGreat.”

Mr. Trump’s wrath at his critics, however, left the Birmingham forecasters caught in the path of a presidential storm. For five days, NOAA had no public objection to this conclusion. Only after Mr. Trump insisted on sticking by his disputed claim did NOAA finally weigh in — and no spokesperson attached a name to the statement.

The Birmingham office had no reaction to its dressing down on Friday. A man who answered the phone there referred questions to NOAA in Washington.

But others came to the office’s defense. James Spann, a popular TV meteorologist in Birmingham with more than 400,000 Twitter followers, publicly vouched for the professionalism of the forecasters.

“@NWSBirmingham has a brilliant staff of experienced atmospheric scientists that have helped to save countless lives in my state over the years,” Mr. Spann tweeted after the NOAA rebuke. “They were thrown under the bus today by their parent agency. I stand behind NWS Birmingham 100 percent.”

Dan Sobien, the president of the National Weather Service Employees Organization, called NOAA’s statement “utterly disgusting and disingenuous,” emphasizing that Weather Service employees had nothing to do with it.

Rear Adm. David W. Titley, a retired Navy officer who previously served as NOAA’s chief operating officer, was even more scathing about his former agency. “Perhaps the darkest day ever for @noaa leadership,” he tweeted. “Don’t know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. Moral cowardice.”

The president’s continuing efforts to vindicate his assertion has proved uncomfortable or bewildering in Alabama for allies and meteorologists alike. While Mr. Trump fueled a snowballing national news story, the state’s governor and members of Congress largely steered clear of the topic this week on social media, leaving it to local meteorologists to straighten out any confusion.

Brad Arnold, a storm chaser from Huntsville, Ala., said that his group had seen earlier models predicting that the storm could strike the state, but they held off on posting anything on their Facebook page because hurricane models can — and did — change quickly. Even after the president forecast the storm to include Alabama, Mr. Arnold said he did not get the usual onslaught of messages that come when a storm is on the way.

“There was no panic,” said Mr. Arnold, 30. “There were not people rushing to the grocery stores or going to get gas.”

Indeed, he said his friends were mostly joking about the national news ruckus on social media, including a separate episode in which a storm map on CNN mislabeled their state Mississippi. (While her boss criticized the news media for calling his prediction a mistake, the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, redirected attention to the CNN map, posting a screenshot and quipping that the news outlet needed to “study up on U.S. geography.”)

Mr. Spann was among those weather professionals who wanted nothing to do with the politics even as they sought to correct the misimpression left by the president. After he retweeted Mr. Trump’s post with a correction, Mr. Spann pushed back against critics who claimed that he was bashing the president.

“I have zero interest in politics,” he tweeted. “Dorian will not affect Alabama in any way. That is not a political statement.”

Jason Simpson, the chief meteorologist at WHNT, the CBS affiliate in Huntsville, said he tried to reel in partisan commentary on his Facebook page after he saw other posts getting “a little bit incendiary on the sides.”

Weather is complicated, he said in an interview on Friday. “My point was, you should never listen to a politician for the weather, anyway,” Mr. Simpson said. “That’s why we have the National Weather Service.”

And what was the weather in Alabama this week? “Bone dry,” he said. “It hasn’t rained in six days.”

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Why Thursday’s torrential rain didn’t prompt a flash flood warning in Loudoun, Fairfax

Thursday’s midsummer deluge sent streams bursting out of their banks, inundating roadways and causing travel headaches in parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia — so why wasn’t a flash flood warning issued?

A slow-crawling nuisance of a storm cell brought over 2 inches of rain in less than an hour from Dulles International Airport east through Fairfax County.

With images of commuters stranded on top of their islanded cars fresh in memory, it’s worth a look at what sets the National Weather Service’s two non-coastal flood warnings apart.

Jason Elliott, a senior hydrologist at the weather service’s Baltimore-Washington office, said it depends on how much rainfall an area sees in a certain period of time and how sudden a rush of water it causes.

Flash floods rise quickly after intense rainfall in a short period of time, overwhelming storm drains and threatening life and property near streams and on roadways within minutes. The July 8 D.C. area flood and thousand-year rainfall events in Ellicott City, Maryland, are two recent examples of flash flooding.

Standard flood warnings, meanwhile, are slower to develop. They still pose a threat if not heeded, especially in areas that typically flood, but the floodwaters they describe generally aren’t as swift and rise more gradually.

On the whole, Thursday’s storms, though packing considerable downpours, managed to move quickly enough to avoid widespread flash flooding. The storm briefly slowed down over Fairfax County but sped up enough in time to prevent a more serious situation from unfolding, Elliott said.

“If we’d seen that heavy rain continue for a longer period of time, then it absolutely would have gotten to flash flood warning level,” Elliott told WTOP. “But as it was, it was more of an urban flooding situation with water that just couldn’t drain fast enough because it was raining so hard.”

But the area wasn’t sparred from damage: All lanes of U.S. Route 50 in Middleburg, Virginia, were closed after powerful winds downed a tree. Severed transmission lines sent sparks into the air near Oakton. Fairfax and Annandale both saw major roadways obstructed by high-standing water.

The weather service is working to reformat its flash flood warnings, tweaking its verbiage to emphasize local impacts and make them easier to understand, Elliott said. It hopes to debut the revamped warning by the end of the year.

WTOP’s Nick Iannelli contributed to this report.

Source

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Weather service confirms brief tornado in Charlottesville

WASHINGTON — A tornado briefly touched down in Charlottesville, Virginia, and caused some damage to a high school, the National Weather Service confirmed Thursday. Around 11 a.m., the EF-0 tornado first hit near the intersection of Avon Street Extended and Scottsville Road, according to the weather service. It had estimated maximum wind speeds of 70 mph and a 2-mile path length. The tornado…

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