Sharpie cartoon

It was bad enough when President Donald Trump – whether his fault or his staff’s – made a mistake in putting Alabama in Hurricane Dorian’s danger zone, but the political storm damage only got worse when the frenzied media and weather politicos joined Trump in making a real fuss out of it.

So are we to the point that we can’t even talk about the weather without politics being involved?

Why it matters

Yes, sadly, we are, and that is a danger that should be avoided moving forward.

Leave the weather experts to their job without being critical of what they see as the truth, politically correct or not.

Too many lives depend on it.

Trump knows Alabama is one of his strongest states of support. It is as ruby red as red can get.

We can only hope that Trump, or whomever on his staff suggested it to him, made the now infamous Sharpie pen marks on the Hurricane Dorian weather map because he held genuine concern in planning for Alabama’s wellbeing.

Alabama appreciates that concern and certainly welcomes Trump’s and any other support when disaster threatens this state.

Alabama also has had its fair share of weather disasters that have resulted in mass casualties and major economic impacts, and therefore even the slightest variation of a disaster warning carries with it major implications.

The decision to evacuate, the decision to move company assets, the decision to invest money in storm-protection materials and supplies, the decision to reschedule staffing and put personnel on different hours – it all is directly influenced in many, many cases by a weather forecast or warnings of imminent danger.

Doing its job

Likewise when the all-clear call is sounded, as the Birmingham office of the National Weather Service rightly did when it became evident Hurricane Dorian would be making a northward turn at sea and would NOT be approaching Alabama with significant impact.

That early notice of “no impact” meant much, to many.

The Birmingham office should be commended for making the call when it did, and as clearly as it did. Doing its job in clarifying the matter, whether disputing the president or any other politician or source, is exactly what the weather service office should do, did do, and deserves thanks for doing it.

Trump and/or his staff made a mistake with the “Sharpie map” that included Alabama in the danger zone when it already was determined otherwise. Whether made with good intentions to help the state or continued to be supported in stubbornness matters not in the retrospect of considering the mission of the weather service.

But this was not a Trump solo act. Immediately the national mainstream media and especially social media went viral with calling Trump’s move a gaffe and making light of it. That, of course, came at the delight of opposing politicians such as liberal Democrats who enjoy making light of Trump and his brash approach to doing what he thinks right or is determined to do.

Once that happened, attention became diverted from where it was needed the most as Dorian continued to threaten lives up the East Coast.

Republican or Democrat, Trump lover or hater, or whatever we try to influence however we do so, weather forecasting should be left to the weather experts to do their job.

Let's talk weather

Too many lives and dollars are at stake.

When we talk weather, let’s talk weather.

Leave the blame politics out of it.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He can be contacted at and followed on Twitter @troyturnernews.

Troy Turner is editor of the Opelika-Auburn News. He previously served as the news editor in New York for the nation's second largest newspaper company, and as the senior editor at several other news entities around the nation. He is an Auburn alum.

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