Trump Defends Use of Altered, Inaccurate Hurricane Map

President Trump shows reporters an altered hurricane map in the Oval Office on Wednesday, with Alabama included via Sharpie. (AP photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Trouble is raining down on President Donald Trump, who gave the nation incorrect information on Hurricane Dorian’s trajectory, using an altered weather map to defend himself.

During an Oval Office press conference Wednesday, Trump displayed a map from the National Hurricane Center showing the devastating storm’s initial predicted path. As he held up the poster board, it became clear the map had been edited: Dorian’s cone had been extended with what appeared to be black marker to include Alabama.

It is against the law to falsify a National Weather Service forecast and pass it off as official, according to the nonprofit Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. It was unclear who altered the chart.

When asked a few hours later about the surprising addition, Trump responded, “I don’t know. I don’t know,” while insisting that the initial storm predictions included the possibility that Dorian would make landfall in the southern state.

Trump had incorrectly tweeted Sunday that Alabama was among the states —as well as Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas — that could be affected by the hurricane.

Not long after, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama responded to the contrary, though it did not explicitly mention Trump’s tweet.

“Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian,” it tweeted.

“We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east.”

After White House ABC correspondent Jonathon Karl fact-checked Trump, the president lashed out, tweeting “Such a phony hurricane report by lightweight reporter,” before doubling down on his claim that Alabama could have been affected by Dorian.

He tweeted: “under certain original scenarios, it was in fact correct that Alabama could have received some ‘hurt.'”

The National Hurricane Center has regular bulletins on the storm’s progress, but has not issued any warnings to Alabama.

And on Wednesday night, the president tweeted a map from Aug. 28 and wrote: “As you can see, almost all models predicted it to go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News apologies!”

The map was issued by the South Florida Water Management District and, as many online users pointed out, contains this caveat: “If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product.”

© Agence France-Presse

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