- President Donald Trump on Sunday said he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, even though four storms of that intensity have threatened the US since he took office.
- “I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed,” he said during a Federal Emergency Management Administration briefing, adding: “But a Category 5 is something that – I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there.”
- Four storms that were at some point designated a Category 5 have threatened the US or its territories since Trump took office: Irma in 2017, Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and the current storm, Dorian.
- Dorian slammed into the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas on Sunday with wind gusts of up to 220 mph. It was slowly moving west toward the Florida coastline.
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President Donald Trump on Sunday said he was not sure he had “ever even heard of a Category 5” hurricane, even though four storms of that classification have threatened the US mainland or US territories under his presidency.
Trump received a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration headquarters in Washington, DC, on Hurricane Dorian, a Category 5 storm that has devastated the Bahamas and was slowly approaching America’s southeastern coastline with sustained winds of 185 mph as of Sunday evening.
During his briefing, Trump described Dorian as “very, very powerful” and said the storm would be “one of the biggest hurricanes that we’ve ever seen.”
“We don’t even know what’s coming at us,” he said. “All we know is it’s possibly the biggest. I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4s – you don’t even see them that much.
“But a Category 5 is something that – I don’t know that I’ve ever even heard the term other than I know it’s there. That’s the ultimate, and that’s what we have, unfortunately.”
The CNN reporter Daniel Dale examined Trump’s comments and found he had made similar statements about previous storms during his presidency.
President Donald Trump on the existence of Category 5 hurricanes, 2017-2019. pic.twitter.com/IRRny20hfp
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) September 1, 2019
“I never even knew a Category 5 existed,” he said on September 14, 2017, just days after Hurricane Irma – a Category 5 storm that battered parts of the Caribbean islands before weakening to a Category 4 hurricane when it made landfall in the Florida Keys.
Later in September, Hurricane Maria devastated parts of Dominica, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. The Category 5 storm weakened to a Category 4 when it hit Puerto Rico. Officials there eventually linked the storm to nearly 3,000 deaths, and the US territory is still recovering from the impacts of the natural disaster.
“So we’ve never seen it,” Trump said on September 26, 2017, about Maria’s impact. “It actually touched down as a Category 5. People have never seen anything like that.”
In October 2017, Trump reiterated claims that Category 5 storms were inconceivable, saying “nobody has ever heard of a 5 hitting land.”
And in May of this year, months after Category 5 Hurricane Michael ravaged the Florida Panhandle, Trump told the crowd at a campaign rally in Panama City Beach, Florida, that he had “never heard about Category 5s before.”
“A Category 5 is big stuff,” he said.
Dorian is the 4th Category 5 storm to threaten the US under Trump
Four Category 5 storms have actually threatened the US since the beginning of Trump’s presidency: Irma in 2017, Maria in 2017, Michael in 2018, and Dorian, which has been slowly heading toward the Florida coast but may not actually make landfall in the state, according to AccuWeather forecasts as of 10 p.m. ET on Sunday.
AccuWeather predicts that Dorian may still cause damage in eastern parts of Florida even if the central part of the storm does not reach the coastline.
Changes to Dorian’s strength are expected through Monday depending on the position and conditions inside the eye of the storm.
The US has experienced several destructive hurricanes in recent years, most recently Michael, which made landfall in Florida last October 10 with wind speeds of 160 mph.
Dorian slammed into the island of Great Abaco in the Bahamas on Sunday with wind gusts of up to 220 mph.
The National Hurricane Centre called the storm “catastrophic” as it battered Great Abaco and the nearby Grand Bahama island, and the centre issued a storm-surge warning for parts of Florida’s eastern coast, including from Lantana to the border of Volusia and Brevard counties as of 8 p.m. ET.
- Read more:
- The 14 most important ways to prepare for a hurricane
- Hurricane Dorian is set to wreak havoc on air travel – here’s what you need to know about flights
- Spaghetti models of Hurricane Dorian show the storm heading for Florida – but you should not read them as forecasts
- Hurricane categories tell only part of the story – here’s the real damage storms like Dorian can do
- Why hurricanes are getting stronger, slower, and wetter