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Old 09-09-2019, 12:30 PM
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OK, Hurricane Dorian Was Or Was Not Projected To Hit Alabama At Some Point?


First the National Weather Service said it was never projected to hit Alabama. Now new maps are showing up on Twitter that supposedly show that some models did have it hitting Alabama. Also showing up are rumors that the Trump administration is pressuring meteorologists to lie and say that Trump is/was right.

What's the scoop? Dorian was or was not ever projected -- by NOAA, the NWS, The Important And Scientific, Government-Backed Hurricane Prediction Authority, whatever -- to hit Alabama?
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:35 PM
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It was projected by Trump to hit Alabama. He said so publicly, then drew a line on an official weather map indicating the same thing. No professional meteorologist ever projected that it would hit Alabama.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:50 PM
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In the early days of the hurricane there were possibilities that it could hit a wide range of targets. So you see articles like this one on August 30:
Will Hurricane Dorian hit Alabama? Here's what we know and how you can track the storm
Quote:
Just a few months after a tornado killed 23 people in Lee County, Alabama now faces the possibility of Hurricane Dorian, which is currently making its way to the East Coast.
https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com...st/2164905001/

But there were never forecasts it was highly probable it would hit Alabama.

Last edited by PastTense; 09-09-2019 at 12:52 PM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:56 PM
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This article seems like a good summary.

-Some early projections from computer models (not forecasts) showed that Dorian could hit Alabama.

Quote:
Defending himself late Wednesday, Trump posted an image borrowed from the South Florida Water Management District.

The image, which according to a time stamp was generated on Aug. 28, features many deterministic computer models plotting potential tracks for the center of Dorian. Some of those models did suggest the center of Dorian could move through the Florida peninsula and into the Gulf of Mexico, where it could make a second landfall along the Northern Gulf Coast, including Alabama.

But computer models aren’t forecasts; they’re tools for forecasters.

No weather forecaster would take the output of a single computer model — or even multiple models — and portray it as a weather forecast. Experienced forecasters blend these models with other data and their own skills to produce the most accurate forecast.
-Some early forecasts showed there was a small probability of winds over 39 mph hitting Alabama.

Quote:
The only probabilistic measure of an impact on Alabama ever issued by the National Hurricane Center was a product that predicts the chance of tropical storm-force winds of 39 miles per hour or greater occurring in a five-day period. The greatest odds for any site in Alabama to receive winds of tropical storm intensity was 11 percent, in a forecast issued on Aug. 30.

That chance quickly diminished to 0 percent.
So although early on there was some small possibility of Dorian impacting Alabama, no one ever "forecasted" it would hit Alabama, and whatever small possibility there had been no longer existed by several days before Trump's tweet.

Last edited by Colibri; 09-09-2019 at 12:57 PM.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:57 PM
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The question "Was Dorian projected to hit Alabama." is not a good one. Two possible questions are: "Was it ever possible (or likely) that Dorian would hit Alabama?" and "Was it ever possible (or likely) that Dorian would hit Alabama at the time Trump made his statement?"

The answer to 1-possible is sure.
The answer to 1-likely is, I think, 'no'
The answer to 2-possible is. Almost anything is possible, but this is highly unlikely
The answer to 1-likely is definitely 'no'.

If you go back to the original question with projected, taken to mean mostly probably path, I'm pretty sure, the answer is no. I don't recall any maps in which Alabama was a likely target, but I've probably not seen them all.
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Old 09-09-2019, 01:36 PM
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Forecast maps from August 29:

Here are projected paths from 29 August. You can see that the EGRT and AEMI paths approach (but do not enter) the SE corner of Alabama. Note also that the map shows a disclaimer that orders the decision-making viewer to seek "official info."
On the same date the "European models" predicted a somewhat more southerly tracks, though again Alabama isn't quite entered.
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Old 09-09-2019, 03:56 PM
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Normally "hit " means the eye passes over. It was never predicted to "hit" Alabama. The map that Trump showed had a five day curve. It didn't have a six day curve because a six day projection could have put it anywhere, so Trump drew a sixth day on. Badly.

He could have correctly said "People near the AL/GA border may get high winds". But he didn't.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:16 PM
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Early models, at the end points of their runs, some 5-7 days out, did have Dorian hitting Alabama. And Mississippi, and the Florida panhandle. You get the idea.

I mentioned the possibility, and the dire potential for dramatic storm intensification, in the Mundane Sharing thread on the storm. A few more days passed, and the models discounted a Gulf of Mexico entry as a possibility. The atmosphere is a really difficult thing to predict, though I note that Newfoundland did end up getting walloped as those long range models suggested it would.

Not a fan of Trump pressuring NOAA employees to do anything other than their jobs.
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Old 09-09-2019, 04:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gray Ghost View Post
Not a fan of Trump pressuring NOAA employees to do anything other than their jobs.
Moderator Note

This being GQ, let's stick to facts about hurricane forecasts rather than the political aspects of this. There are other threads available for such commentary.

Colibri
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Old 09-09-2019, 05:31 PM
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Trump's tweet was on September 1st. He didn't say "a few days ago, it looked like Dorian might hit Alabama". Despite the fact that the probable tracks no longer included Alabama, he tweeted that "In addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. "
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Old 09-10-2019, 07:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whitetho View Post
Trump's tweet was on September 1st. He didn't say "a few days ago, it looked like Dorian might hit Alabama". Despite the fact that the probable tracks no longer included Alabama, he tweeted that "In addition to Florida - South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama, will most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated. "
It's sad that people go to great lengths to take a statement that clearly states a future forecast as of a given date and try to re-interpret it to refer to no-longer valid, past extended model projection from several days previous.

The statement quoted is unambiguous to me. And therefore clearly wrong.
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Old 09-10-2019, 10:19 AM
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I saw an uncited claim somewhere that no hurricane has ever hit Alabama crossing the Eastern coast of Florida. The only ones that hit it come up the Gulf of Mexico. Is there any truth to that?
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Old 09-10-2019, 12:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by enalzi View Post
I saw an uncited claim somewhere that no hurricane has ever hit Alabama crossing the Eastern coast of Florida. The only ones that hit it come up the Gulf of Mexico. Is there any truth to that?
Crossing the width of Florida is going to knock even the strongest hurricane down in strength, usually to a tropical storm or even depression. But once it gets into the Gulf, it can re-energize back to a hurricane. Katrina, for example crossed southern Florida, where it lost energy, and then regained hurricane status in the Gulf. While it didn't hit Alabama directly, the outer parts of it certainly did. And if one hurricane has done this, other hurricanes have done so in the past. Some of them almost certainly have hit Alabama instead of further west. However, it's possible that none have done so in the 70 or so years we've been tracking them.
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