Directors of NOAA Research and National Weather Service Push Back

The Sharpie-Gate saga continued yesterday when The Washington Post obtained an internal email from the Chief Scientist at NOAA, Craig McLean, who wrote his colleagues that he “is investigating whether the agency’s response to President Trump’s Hurricane Dorian tweets constituted a violation of NOAA policies and ethics.” In addition, the head of the National Weather Service “broke with NOAA leadership” over its handling of Trump’s Hurricane Dorian misinformation tweets and statements.  And finally, The NY Times late yesterday afternoon reported that the Secretary of Commerce, Wilbur Ross, threatened to fire the political leadership at the agency if the official NOAA Statement criticizing the Birmingham forecast office did not go out and that the Department’s own Inspector General would also now investigate the matter.

Why This Matters:  The National Weather Service Forecast Offices and the National Hurricane Center have the most up to date information about storms and severe weather — they issue the definitive weather forecasts to the entire weather forecasting public-private enterprise and to emergency managers at every level.  This is a system that has served the public well for decades.  It is good that the career public servants are willing to stand up and defend the actions of their employees — they were just doing what we need them to do to keep us safe and should not fear for their jobs or careers.   And when there is a violation of agency policy, it should be looked at by leadership to make sure they know why and how to do better the next time.  All of what the career agency employees are doing is routine and standard.  They should be allowed to do their jobs without political interference.  But now the President’s supporters may believe those civil servants have “taken sides” against him.  This is tragic and yet may have been inevitable once he took out that sharpie.

Craig McLean’s Memo To Agency Staff

The Washington Post quoted McLean’s memo:

  • “I am pursuing the potential violations of our NOAA Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity…I have a responsibility to pursue these truths,” he added. “I will.”
  • I (Monica) can attest that Craig McLean is a dedicated public servant and a straight shooter.  McLean has extensive experience in NOAA’s ocean programs and is also an attorney who has practiced marine resource law. He has been awarded the Department of Commerce Silver and Bronze medals, among other accolades, according to The Post.


Lou Uccellini”s Remarks to NWS Employees

The Post reported that the “American Meteorological Society issued a statement of support for the NWS, writing: ‘AMS believes the criticism of the Birmingham forecast office is unwarranted; rather they should have been commended for their quick action based on science in clearly communicating the lack of threat to the citizens of Alabama.'”

The Post also reported that “National Weather Service Director Louis Uccellini got a standing ovation at a major weather industry conference in Huntsville, Ala., when he broke with his bosses at NOAA by enthusiastically backing his agency’s forecasters regarding their performance during Hurricane Dorian.

Up Next

Tropical Storm Bertha Makes Landfall In South Carolina After Flooding South Florida

Tropical Storm Bertha Makes Landfall In South Carolina After Flooding South Florida

The second named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Bertha, strengthened quickly overnight Tuesday and made landfall yesterday morning about 20 miles east of Charleston.   On Tuesday, as a result of the storm, Miami experienced more than 7 inches of rain — 6 of which fell in 2 hours, flooding streets across the city.

Why This Matters:  Tropical Storm Bertha is following an increasingly familiar pattern of unprecedented amounts of rainfall along with strong winds that persist into the interior portions.

Continue Reading 421 words
NOAA Predicts It’s Going To Be An Active Hurricane Season

NOAA Predicts It’s Going To Be An Active Hurricane Season

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration(NOAA) is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which 6 to 10 could become hurricanes and 3 to 6 become major hurricanes with winds of 111 mph or higher. The forecast is due to cooler ocean conditions in the Pacific and warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea.

Why This Matters:  It could be a disastrous summer. The new climate normal on top of the COVID-19 pandemic will make things challenging everywhere.

Continue Reading 515 words

Mass Evacuations in Michigan After Dams Collapse

After suffering record-breaking heavy rains, the Central Michigan city of Midland experienced a catastrophic 2-dam collapse along the Tittabawassee River yesterday evening. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer declared a state of emergency and expressed that “In the next 12 to 15 hours, downtown Midland could be under approximately nine feet of water.” Whitmer also urged people […]

Continue Reading 213 words