The latest White House display of disregard for science was President Donald Trump’s insistence that Alabama had been seriously threatened by Hurricane Dorian at one point in its march toward the mainland.
As is evident to nearly everyone who was watching over that weekend, that was never the case. The National Weather Service scientists at Birmingham, charged as they are with protecting the lives and property of the citizens of the United States, stepped in to clarify that there was no threat to the state from the hurricane.
On Monday, Louis Uccellini, the Director of the National Weather Service and a UW-Madison graduate, commended those forecasters for acting “with one thing in mind: public safety.”
As pressure has mounted on government employees to back the president in order to spare him from simply acknowledging that he may have been in error, Uccellini sidestepped the politicization of the incident by simply stating that “The Birmingham office did this to stop public panic, to ensure public safety.”
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National Weather Service forecasters are highly trained scientists who are committed to keeping the public informed and safe in the face of sometimes life-threatening weather. They already face a skeptical public that often bemoans the fact that forecasts can go wrong. The fact is that weather forecasts today are essentially correct, out to at least three days, nearly 90% of the time.
These scientists, and our fellow citizens, do not benefit from threatening these professionals and eroding the public's confidence in their work. We applaud Dr. Uccellini for his courageous stand.
Steve Ackerman and Jonathan Martin, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, UW-Madison, "The Weather Guys"