As Hurricane Dorian hurtled toward the U.S. coastline on Sunday, President Donald Trump expressed shock over its Category 5 status, claiming to be unsure of whether he had heard of such a term despite the fact that it’s the fourth storm of that magnitude to develop during his tenure.
“I’m not sure that I’ve ever even heard of a Category 5,” he told Federal Emergency Management Agency officials. “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.”
In September 2017, Hurricane Irma slammed the Florida Keys as a Category 3 storm, having weakened from Category 5 as it approached. That same month, Hurricane Maria, which was also initially ranked Category 5, hit Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, leaving behind damage from which the island has yet to fully recover as it waits on further disaster relief funding from Congress.
In October 2018, Hurricane Michael became the first Category 5 storm to strike the country since 1992.
However, this isn’t the first time Trump’s memory has apparently short-circuited. On two separate occasions in September 2017, the president said he “never even knew a Category 5 existed” and that no one had ever “seen anything like that.”
The following month, he erroneously claimed that throughout history, a storm of that intensity had never hit land.
In May of this year, he again said he hadn’t heard of a Category 5 storm, calling it “big stuff.”
Dorian is expected to begin moving along the Florida coast on Tuesday.