Wilbur Ross Threatened Firings at NOAA — NY Times

Wilbur Ross Threatened Firings at NOAA — NY Times

The Times reports that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, whose department oversees the NOAA, threatened to fire some of the weather forecasting agency's top employees the Birmingham tweet that contradicted the president.

As the potentially risky weather conditions caused by Hurricane Dorian rapidly evolved, NOAA officials in Washington overrode sound science and undercut NWS professionals, apparently to provide cover for the president, who on September 1 had posted inaccurate information on Twitter.

Ross's warning led to NOAA's headquarters issuing an unusual statement disavowing the National Weather Service's assertion Alabama was not at risk.

That has not stopped commerce secretary Wilbur Ross from threatening to fire senior officials if they do not issue a public communique defending the president, the New York Times reported Monday.

The National Weather Service Employees Organization pushed back, calling the NOAA statement "utterly disgusting and disingenuous". Don't know how they will ever look their workforce in the eye again. That was followed by a speech at a major weather conference by U.S. National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini, a guy who literally wrote the book on forecasting when it comes to snowstorms in the Northeast.

Jacobs specifically thanked Kevin Laws, science and operations officer with the weather service office in Birmingham. I've known some of you for 25 years.

"The objective of the NOAA statement was to clarify the technical aspects of the potential impacts of Dorian", Jacobs said.

Earlier, the president of the 2,100-member association, Paul Schlatter, said any forecast office "would have done the exact same thing" as the Birmingham forecast office.

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Jacobs said there was no pressure from the Trump administration or NOAA to change the way branch offices communicate forecasts to the public.

"No one's job is under threat, not mine, not yours". Not mine. Not yours. But a battle over the weather service helps bring it home.

The experts were right, but Trump dragged out the story last week, insisting that Alabama was at one point in Dorian's path. He said he could not independently confirm the threatened firing. This is critically important. "We don't need to introduce a whole lot more".

We can't say it strongly enough: This must not be allowed to become a new norm.

Also on Tuesday, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, said that her committee is actively pursuing the Dorian forecast uproar. No NOAA Administrator I worked for would have done this. "I am even more distressed to learn that political interference from the Secretary of Commerce may be behind the directive", Johnson said in a statement.

The memo, sent Saturday by Commerce's OIG, ordered NOAA to preserve and hand over documents for all communications related to the statement, as well as descriptions of calls, meetings or other oral communications. "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama", the tweet read on September 1. And in a letter emailed to colleagues Monday, NOAA's acting chief scientist, Craig McLean, called the agency's statement "political" and a potential violation of scientific integrity rules.

Alabama's two Democratic members of Congress, Rep. Terri Sewell of Birmingham and Sen.

Democratic Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia and Paul Tonko of NY also called for Ross to go, as did Michael Brune, executive director of environmental nonprofit the Sierra Club, The Hill reported.

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