It has become known to some on Twitter as #sharpiegate.
As Hurricane Dorian moved across the Caribbean last week on its way toward the United States, forecasts showed a possible direct hit on Florida. One model even showed the hurricane crossing the state into the Gulf of Mexico and then doubling back to move back into the Atlantic Ocean.
A week ago, on August 29, President Donald Trump and Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan updated the media on Hurricane Dorian in an Oval Office briefing. There, Trump held up a map from the National Hurricane Center that showed the “cone” of the storm. But on the edge, drawn in black magic marker, was another smaller half-circle that extended the cone into the Florida panhandle and Alabama.
The hurricane has since turned northbound and is currently tracking up the East Coast. But Trump insists that at one point, Alabama was in fact in the path of the storm — or at least the outer bands of the storm, which can extend hundreds of miles.
“In the early days of the hurricane, when it was predicted that Dorian would go through Miami or West Palm Beach, even before it reached the Bahamas, certain models strongly suggested that Alabama & Georgia would be hit as it made its way through Florida & to the Gulf,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning.
“Instead it turned North and went up the coast, where it continues now. In the one model through Florida, the Great State of Alabama would have been hit or grazed. In the path it took, no,” he continued. “Read my FULL FEMA statement. What I said was accurate! All Fake News in order to demean!”
Trump followed up by tweeting: “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!”
On Wednesday, in another Oval Office briefing, Trump said Alabama was in the “original forecast.”
“I know that Alabama was in the original forecast, they thought they would get it as a piece of it … we had many lines going directly, many models, each line being a model, going directly through, and in all cases, Alabama was hit, if not likely, in some cases, pretty hard,” Trump said.
“They actually gave that a 95 percent chance probability. It turned out that’s not what happened — it made a right turn up the coast,” he continued. “But Alabama … was going to be hit very hard, along with Georgia. But under the current, they won’t be, but Georgia will be possibly.”
Asked about the added circle on the August 29 map, Trump said: “I don’t know.”
Trump also put out a map from the early days of the storm, saying: “As you can see, almost all models predicted it go through Florida also hitting Georgia and Alabama. I accept the Fake News Apologies!”
Those projected paths, known as “spaghetti models,” often show tropical storms or hurricanes going off in numerous directions. Every day, some models fall out as others appear, based on how the storm is tracking.
But the media — and Trump foes on Twitter — had sunk their teeth into a huge story: Trump said Dorian was going to hit Alabama.
Within hours, #sharpiegate was trending on Twitter.
#Sharpie also trended on the social media platform.
But one user, citing a Southern rock anthem, said it was time to move on.