On Sunday, Donald Trump tweeted false information that Alabama would likely be hit by Hurricane Dorian.
"Alabama will NOT see any impacts from Dorian," the National Weather Service Birmingham Alabama swiftly said to correct the President, to ensure nobody in Alabama was panicked unecessarily. "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east."
Unfortunately, this correction was not the end of the matter. In an update on Hurricane Dorian yesterday, Trump displayed an old projection of the hurricane from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that appears to have been altered with a marker pen to include Alabama in the hurricane's potential path.
The White House tweeted out the update.
Eagle-eyed viewers zoomed in on the map and found that a loop had been drawn onto the map in a different color, though the forecasts show Alabama is not in Dorian's path and never has been.
This is how it compares to an early projection from the NOAA, as found by NBC News. It appears to be the same map, minus one obvious difference.
As has been pointed out by several people, falsifying a National Weather Service forecast is a federal crime, which can result in a fine or imprisonment.
The law on issuing false forecasts is clear, as outlined in US Code?2074: False weather reports:
"Whoever knowingly issues or publishes any counterfeit weather forecast or warning of weather conditions falsely representing such forecast or warning to have been issued or published by the Weather Bureau, United States Signal Service, or other branch of the Government service, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ninety days, or both."
It's not clear why Trump showed an old chart to the press conference, nor why it appeared to have been drawn on to include Alabama in the path. Trump has since been asked about the map, though he declined to clear the matter up.
Trump later tweeted out an early projection of the hurricane's trajectory, possibly as an explanation for the crudely drawn line on the chart, or in response to his earlier tweets in which he stated Alabama was in the hurricane's path.
However, if you look at the bottom of the map he tweeted out, the creators of the map (which appears to be South Florida Water Management District as spotted by NBC News) note that it should be ignored:
"NHC Advisories and County Emergency Management Statements supersede this product. This graphic should compliment, not replace, NHC discussions. If anything on this graphic causes confusion, ignore the entire product."