Donald Trump Appeared to Show Off a Falsified Hurricane Dorian Forecast in the Oval Office

President Trump Receives Briefing On Hurricane Dorian At White House
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) references a map held by acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan while talking to reporters following a briefing from officials about Hurricane Dorian in the Oval Office at the White House September 04, 2019 in Washington, DC. The map was a forecast from August 29 and appears to have been altered by a black marker to extend the hurricane's range to include Alabama. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

As weather analyst Dennis Mersereau noted on Twitter Wednesday, it is a federal crime to knowingly issue a "counterfeit weather forecast" or other weather-related warning that "falsely" implies the forecast is a publication of the U.S. government. Violators could face up to $5,000 in penalties and potentially 90 days in jail. However, President Donald Trump likely won't face any penalties an apparent alteration on the map shown Wednesday.

Speaking about early forecasts from the National Weather Service that predicted a direct hit on Florida from Hurricane Dorian, Trump displayed a map that appears to have been altered with a Sharpie.

"We got lucky in Florida, very, very lucky indeed," he told reporters. "We had actually our original chart was that it was going to be hitting Florida directly... And that would have affected a lot of other states."

That's when Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin McAleenan revealed the early National Weather Service map from August 29, showing a possible trajectory for the storm encompassing lower Florida, the Panhandle and a small portion of southern Georgia.

It is a violation of federal law to falsify a National Weather Service forecast and pass it off as official, as President Trump did here.

18 U.S. Code § 2074:

— Dennis Mersereau (@wxdam) September 4, 2019

A crudely drawn bubble that doesn't appear in any of the National Weather Service's projections — Newsweek reviewed the agency's archived Dorian forecasts — was tacked onto the map, including some parts of Alabama in the storm's then-projected path.

When a reporter asked whether or not a Sharpie was used to alter the map, Trump replied, "I don't know, I don't know."

On Sunday, Trump tweeted out a warning for residents in the path of the impending storm, including the states of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama in his message. The National Weather Service just minutes later issued its own tweet, reassuring Alabamians that there were no storm-related weather events expected to occur from Dorian's approach.

"Alabama will NOT see any impact from #Dorian," the agency said. "We repeat, no impacts from Hurricane #Dorian will be felt across Alabama. The system will remain too far east. #alwx"

Trump also insisted during the press gaggle that "other, better maps" included Alabama in the potentially storm-affected areas.

After Dorian was originally trained on Florida, the hurricane's latest path may see Georgia and the Carolinas bear the brunt of the mainland damage. The Bahamas suffered immensely after Dorian stalled over the island, blasting residents with Category 5 winds up to 185 mph and devastating rains.

A spokesperson for the White House did not respond to a request for comment.