“The more general, longer-term consequence is that NOAA’s complaint against the NWS office in Birmingham could have a deterrent effect on the future messages of the NWS forecasters on public security and could undermine public confidence in the NWS forecasts,” said it in the report.
In response to worrying calls, the National Weather Service office in Birmingham, Alabama tweeted: “Alabama will NOT see any effects from #Dorian. We reiterate that there are no effects of hurricane #Dorian in Alabama. The system will remain too far. ”
On September 6, the NOAA issued a statement saying, “The information that NOAA and the National Hurricane Center provided to President Trump and the general public showed that tropical storm winds could affect Hurricane Dorian Alabama. .. The Birmingham National Weather Service’s tweet on Sunday morning spoke in absolute numbers that did not match the probabilities of the best forecasting products currently available. “
Thursday’s report describes how then-serving White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, said: “It appears the NWS has deliberately disagreed with the president. And we need to know why.”
Trump, Mulvaney wrote, “wants either a correction or an explanation, or both.”
However, the report specifically addresses the acting General Counsel of the Department of Commerce, Michael Walsh, and then Deputy General Counsel, David Dewhirst, who both played a role in drafting the NOAA statement.
“While Mr. Mulvaney made a request for ‘a correction or explanation, or both,’ the division, and in particular Mr Walsh and Mr Dewhirst, are responsible for transforming what could be interpreted as a harmless request for a statement from the NWS Request that required a publicly published statement that NWS Birmingham cited, “the report said.
“In the end, Mr. Walsh and Mr. Dewhirst were ill-equipped to formulate an answer to the incoming request, which also protected the interests of NOAA.”
However, Walsh wrote in an answer attached to the report that the IG Department’s conclusions “are not wholly supported by any evidence or factual evidence contained in the report itself.”
“Instead, the inspector-general selectively quotes from interviews, takes contextual facts, portrays events that are related to each other without evidence, and ignores basic governance structures in the Department of Commerce,” he wrote.
Sean Brebbia, deputy general counsel of the commercial department’s Office of Special Projects, said the report did not find that the department’s staff had done anything wrong.
“The lack of a formal recommendation shows that there were no major shortcomings in the department’s handling of this situation,” Brebbia wrote.
This investigation found that the NOAA leadership’s actions during the storm violated the agency’s ethical and scientific standards.
CNN’s Ellie Kaufman and Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.