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Trump doubles down on claim that Hurricane Dorian threatened Alabama after #SharpieGate trends on Twitter

Trump stands by inaccurate claim about Dorian

President Trump is insisting that Alabama could have been hit by Hurricane Dorian — despite government meteorologists saying otherwise. The president displayed a map seemingly altered with a Sharpie during a briefing Wednesday that showed the storm threatening the state. 

Even though the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center said there was no potential threat to Alabama, the president doubled down on his claim in several tweets Thursday morning. 

"Alabama was going to be hit or grazed, and then Hurricane Dorian took a different path (up along the East Coast). The Fake News knows this very well. That's why they're the Fake News!" Mr. Trump tweeted. "What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!" he said in another tweet.

To back up his claim, he posted a map Wednesday of possible storm tracks that the South Florida Water Management District had put out on a week earlier, on August 28. 

That map included cautionary language at the bottom specifying that it should not replace National Hurricane Center advisories. Of the 45 advisories issued so far by the National Hurricane Center giving probabilities for tropical storm and hurricane force winds, none have included Alabama.

The president has faced criticism all week for the claim. He first tweeted about it Sunday, but was quickly debunked by the National Weather Service. 

"Alabama will NOT see any impacts from #Dorian," NWS Birmingham tweeted. "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east." 

Mr. Trump repeated the claim from the Oval Office Wednesday, displaying a National Hurricane Center map from last Thursday that appeared to have an extra semicircle drawn on with Sharpie extending the storm's "cone of uncertainty" into Alabama. 

"I know that Alabama was in the original forecast. They thought it would get it," the president said.

Trump
President Donald Trump shows an altered map of Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office of the White House on Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019. Evan Vucci / AP

Mr. Trump claimed to be unaware of any alterations to the map. He said "I don't know" three times after a reporter asked about the Sharpie addition. 

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley later confirmed there was "a black sharpie mark on a map" but criticized "the media" for going "ballistic" about it.

In his Oval Office remarks, the president also talked about "a better map," which seemed to match the description of the week-old South Florida Water Management District forecast. The "better map," he said, "had many lines going directly — many models, each line being a model — and they were going directly through. And in all cases Alabama was hit if not lightly, in some cases pretty hard. ... They actually gave that a 95% chance probability."

The Associated Press points out the highest probability issued for any U.S. location for Dorian has been in the 60% range, not 95%.

Meanwhile, the hashtag #SharpieGate trended on Twitter as thousands of people mocked the president's claim by posting Sharpie illustrations of their own. 

The original, unaltered map from last week is still available on NOAA's social media pages, and can be seen here:

144746-5day-cone-no-line-and-wind.png
Hurricane Dorian's projected path as of 11 a.m. EDT on August 29, 2019 National Hurricane Center

 -The Associated Press contributed reporting

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