News / USA

White House Rides Out Snow Storm

The White House, 10 Feb 2010
The White House, 10 Feb 2010

The White House, like much of the rest of the Northeastern United States is coping with the second major snow storm to hit the region in less than a week.   Even for snow-hardened people from Chicago, like President Barack Obama and his family, this is a winter for the record books.

The president has one word to describe the twin storms.

"Snowmageddon."

It is a play on the words snow and Armageddon - a recognition that this is a snowfall of historic proportions.

Just last year, President Obama scoffed when a few centimeters of snow prompted schools to close in the Washington D.C area.  He is laughing no longer.

He ventured out in Saturday's storm only to have part of a snow-weakened tree collide with a van in his motorcade.   When the second storm approached, the first family took no chances.

The president prepared to hunker down to wait out the snowfall and advised many staff members, as well as the ever-present White House press corps, to stay home.

His schedule was hastily arranged, as weather forecasters put out travel warnings and began to urge residents to stay off already snow and ice-covered streets.

A White House concert celebrating the music of the American civil rights movement planned for Wednesday was pushed back to Tuesday night as new snow began.

"Welcome to the White House everybody," said President Obama. "And thank you for braving the storm."

What originally might have been a rehearsal became a full production that will air Thursday on national television - one of a series of concerts highlighting the music that, as the president put it, tells the story of America.

For Mr. Obama - the nation's first African-American president - the music of the movement has a special meaning, as he recalled the songs that provided hope and solace to those confronting segregation.

"Above the din of hatred, amidst the deafening silence of inaction, the hymns of the civil rights movement helped carry the cause of a people and advance the ideals of a nation," said Mr. Obama.

Several of the leaders of the civil rights movement were expected to remain in Washington for a private meeting with the president at a White House that literally lived up to its name - rendered nearly invisible by the wind-driven snow.

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