As Hurricane Matthew charges into Florida with winds up to 140 mph, approximately 1.5 million people are preparing to clear out of the storm's path. By Thursday evening, the National Weather Service was imploring residents to head to safety. "Now is the time to urgently hide from the wind. Failure to adequately shelter may result in serious injury, loss of life or immense human suffering," the agency said on its website. On Thursday, President Obama declared a State of Emergency in Florida.
And then there was Matt Drudge, who was instead declaring a state of conspiracy. The founder of the Drudge Report spent his evening blasting out tweets that the storm's forecast was grossly overblown. He even went so far as to accuse the government of exaggerating Hurricane Matthew's intensity just to make a point about the dangers of climate change. Not kidding.
What. The. Bleep.
Hugh Cobb, Chief of the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, told Popular Science that he was aware of Drudge's comments and that while he would not comment directly on them, he reacted with a groan. Cobb emphasized that all of NOAA's data is collected straight from the storm using reconnaissance aircraft. Aircraft have no political agenda.
Lead Forecaster Martin Nelson, also of the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch, hammered home the same point saying “We go with our data. That’s the end of it,” adding “We use the science that we have and that’s what we do.”
Cobb reiterated that this is “an extremely dangerous storm” that must be taken very seriously. Which is to say, get your weather information from weather agencies--not an Internet trash heap with an agenda.