Tales from the Trail

Obama ‘luckiest man on the planet’ in snowstorm

President Barack Obama has weathered many political storms with varying degrees of success, but the snowstorm of the century that walloped Washington this week proved he was the luckiest man on the planet. That’s according to White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, still sore from endlessly shoveling snow at his own home.

To get an idea of what a herculean task it would have been for one person to clear the White House of snow, see the video posted on the White House blog of the blizzard striking the president’s home.

“Obviously, we have seen an extraordinary amount of winter weather here in the mid-Atlantic.  Having shoveled my driveway now what seems like 10,000 times, I can testify to that,” Gibbs said at his daily news briefing.

This winter’s snowfall in Washington broke a 110-year record and the latest storm closed the federal government for four straight days so far (no word yet on whether federal employees will have to make up those snow days). WEATHER-USA/

“It has been an overwhelming weather event,” Gibbs said.

“Why wasn’t the president out there shoveling the walk?” one reporter asked.

Amidst the shivering in Washington, the case for global warming

WEATHER/OK, it’s cold in Washington. It’s really cold. And snowy. And blizzardy. It’s hard to recall that long-ago moment — what was it, six days ago? — when you could go for a walk without cross-country skis and a flask of brandy. But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean global warming is a myth.

But the storms gave conservatives fresh fodder for mocking former Vice President Al Gore and his efforts on global climate change.  Senator Jim DeMint tweeted “It’s going to keep snowing in DC until Al Gore cries ‘uncle’,” Politico reported.

For decades, scientists have struggled to explain the difference between weather, which changes in the short term, and climate, which changes over the long term. There’s a good explanation at the new government Climate Service Web site called “Short term cooling on a warming planet.” The new site went up this week, between blizzards, and is supposed to guide consumers and businesses so they can adapt to climate change. The Climate Service itself is expected to be up and running by the start of the next U.S. fiscal year that begins on October 1.

Wasn’t Groundhog Day last week? Another blizzard slams East Coast

WEATHER-USA/It is starting to feel a lot like that (in)famous movie “Groundhog Day” with a powerful blizzard again pelting the East Coast  from Washington, D.C. up to New York with a foot or more of snow and pummeling winds.

The federal government in Washington is closed for the third straight day, the United Nation’s headquarters in Manhattan is also shuttered — in fact it may be easier to say what’s open, which is probably next to nothing except the random coffee shop and well of course Wall Street.

Already about 15,000 customers in the Baltimore/Washington area are without power and that number will likely jump with wind gusts reportedly hitting more than 40 miles per hour at Dulles International Airport and near whiteout conditions.

Washington blizzard finally gets respect from ‘flinty’ Obama

President Barack Obama, who famously chided Washington for not being “flinty” enough in dealing with snow compared with his hometown Chicago, isn’t scoffing any more as a winter storm threatens to dump up to 30 inches on the U.S. capital this weekend.

WEATHER-USA/SNOW“I think even a transplanted Hawaiian to Chicago has sufficient respect for a forecast of nearly two feet of snow,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters as snowflakes fluttered against the window of his West Wing office.

Midwesterners like Obama like to brag how tough they are in winter weather compared with their East Coast brethren. That said, Gibbs noted the president was not going to have to shovel the White House’s many paths, although he allowed that the Obama daughters Sasha and Malia  might well play in the drifts or get out the First Family’s sled.

Obama feels at home in eye of winter storm

While the rest of Washington dug itself out of  the area’s most severe winter storm in years, the residents of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue  found the deeply drifting snow much to their liking as it blanketed the White House.

snow

“I am from Chicago, so let me first say that with the place where I live covered with snow I’m finally starting to feel like home,” President Barack Obama told reporters for a hastily summoned White House statement on climate change and healthcare reform.
    
Up to 20 inches of snow is forecast for the capital area Saturday, sharply restricting travel as airlines canceled flights and public transport was shut down.
    
This also brings to mind Obama’s previous recommendation that the locals need to develop some mid-western fortitude toward the weather, after he complained Washingtonians need some “flinty Chicago toughness” after his two daughters’ school closed down after a 2-inch snowfall in January. 

Photo credit: Reuters/Jason Reed)