Since its landfall in the Bahamas, President Donald Trump has inundated Twitter with Hurricane Dorian updates. Some were retweets from the National Hurricane Center, and others were dramatic or even inaccurate claims about who would be affected. Even after being fact-checked by official forecasters, Trump has continued to stand by his statement that the storm was once projected to hit Alabama and, now, he has the receipts to prove it. Or, he thinks he does. After he referenced a seemingly doctored forecast map, memes about Trump's Hurricane Dorian update (complete with Sharpie edits) are hilariously calling out the president on his latest round of alternative facts.
When he first said the hurricane would reach Alabama, the National Weather Service promptly denied the claim as false, and his mistake became immediate fodder for criticism — and late night comedy. “Under certain circumstances, it could have hit Alabama,” Stephen Colbert said while imitating the president. “I know this because I write weather fan fiction.”
The reality of the storm is significantly less funny. After Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas on Sept. 2, it hovered over the island nation, killing at least five people and leaving many others homeless and missing. About two days later, it began moving toward the United States, hitting Florida with heavy winds and rains but sparing it from any severe damage. As of the afternoon of Sept. 4, the storm is headed towards the Carolinas coast of the United States. As Dorian began moving northward, Trump offered his most recent update, this time through the official Twitter account. On Sept. 4, Trump appeared in a video sitting in the Oval Office, expressing relief that Florida has so far been “very, very lucky” and at one point holding up a map of the hurricane’s trajectory.
"That was the original chart, you see it was going to hit not only Florida but Georgia, it was going towards the Gulf," he said. "That was what was originally projected."
That map is already Twitter's new favorite Trump meme, and it immediately become the brunt of both jokes and criticism. More specifically, it features a suspicious black marking that extends Dorian’s original projected path. To the left of the actual prediction, which is depicted in white and encompasses most of Florida and a bit of Georgia, a second, black line extends the path to include a bit of Alabama.
In a nod to reports that Trump had suggested bombing hurricanes, The Daily Show's Trevor Noah recently told people to "let him play his golf because if we don’t there’s a good chance Trump ends up nuking Alabama." Not surprisingly, Noah quickly jumped on #SharpieGate by tweeting an edited photo of the president's hopes of purchasing Greenland.
The memes extended into old jokes about Trump's small hands and Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson's tweets on Sept. 4 about harnessing "the power of the mind" to wish Dorian away. Needless to say, it's been a busy day for Twitter.
When asked about the map, Trump replied that he didn’t know about the marking and that Alabama was indeed in the original forecast, a video shows. Another account by CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins said Trump sidestepped the Sharpie question while insisting “other, better maps” show Alabama in the affected regions.
The Sharpie controversy is hilarious, but others were also quick to contextualize the danger of a president who regularly presents false information. Nowadays, it seems like he's not even trying to make them seem like truths.
A video tweeted by the White House gave credit to the U.S. Coast Guard, which Trump said is in the Bahamas right now and offering humanitarian relief. "They need a big hand, and what's going on there is incredible," he said. "Few people have seen anything like that."
When Colbert said Trump writes hurricane fan fiction, he probably didn't predict how accurate that would get so soon (does it count if it was drawn?). It's unclear why Trump is so adamant about standing by his relatively small mistake. But of course, Dorian staying away from Alabama is a good thing. At least that's one silver lining, if any, of Trump getting his facts wrong.