The Slatest

Trump Says Isn’t Sure He’s “Ever Even Heard of a Category 5” Hurricane

President Donald Trump receives a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on Hurricane Dorian in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2019.
President Donald Trump receives a briefing at the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) on Hurricane Dorian in Washington, D.C. on September 1, 2019.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

President Donald Trump tried to emphasize the dangers posed by Hurricane Dorian but in the process made an eyebrow-raising statement. Trump described Dorian as “one of the biggest hurricanes that we’ve ever seen.” And he has a point. When Dorian became a Category 5 on Sunday it became one of the fiercest storms on record.

Trump ended up taking that thought further. “We don’t even know what’s coming at us. All we know is it’s possibly the biggest. I have—I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5. I knew it existed. And I’ve seen some Category 4’s—you don’t even see them that much,” Trump said at a briefing about the storm at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters.
“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.”

As many were quick to point out, that’s quite the statement considering Dorian is the fourth Category 5 hurricane to threaten the United States since Trump took office. Eight months after he moved into the White House, Hurricane Irma was a Category 5 storm although it weakened before hitting Florida in September 2017. Later that same month, Hurricane Maria was a Category 5 storm before it hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4. And in October 2018, hurricane Michael was the first hurricane to make landfall in the United States as a Category 5 since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

As surprising as Trump’s statement may be it wasn’t the first time Trump appeared shocked at the mere existence of a Category 5 hurricane. “I never even knew a Category 5 existed,” Trump said in September 2017. In May 2019 he had apparently forgotten about Category 5’s again and said: “Never heard about Category 5s before, a Category 5 is big stuff.”