U.S. Commerce Department denies threats to fire weather forecast agency employees

Source: Xinhua| 2019-09-10 13:21:01|Editor: Liu
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WASHINGTON, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Department of Commerce on Monday denied that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had threatened to fire top employees of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over a row concerning Hurricane Dorian.

The New York Times reported Monday that Ross threatened to fire top NOAA employees after the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama tweeted on Sept. 1 that "Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian," rebutting President Donald Trump's claim earlier on the same day that the state would be hit "harder than anticipated."

"Secretary Ross did not threaten to fire any NOAA staff over forecasting and public statements about Hurricane Dorian," the department said in a statement issued by a spokesman, according to the New York Times.

The NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department, and the National Weather Service is a part of the NOAA.

Trump has spent days defending his version of the path of Hurricane Dorian since the controversy erupted. He displayed a large map in the Oval Office on Wednesday showing Alabama was potentially in Dorian's path, but U.S. media said the map had been altered with a black Sharpie pen.

The NOAA said in a statement Friday that the map "demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

It added that the Birmingham National Weather Service's Sept. 1 tweet "spoke in absolute terms that were inconsistent with probabilities from the best forecast products available at the time."

Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas on Sept. 1 as a Category 5 hurricane, killing at least 50 people in the island country as of Monday evening, according to the Bahamian government. It then swiped the coasts of U.S. states of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.