Clem’s Chronicles: Winter Wallop/Obama’s Bi-Partisan Meeting/Childhood Obesity

By Clem Lane

Feb 9, 2010 9:29pm

Got some pretty potent weather hitting the Northeast Corridor overnight and tomorrow. Stay safe if you're out and about. Some details on that and the other news…….

WINTER WALLOP:THE SEQUEL-The second big snowstorm in less than a week is bearing down on the East Coast tonight. A couple of notes-
THE SCOPE-This second storm impacts plenty of folks. Sam Champion noted on WORLD NEWS “It is easily 50 million people if you look at the i-95 corridor from Washington, D.C. into Boston. but this storm goes well west of that. Take a look at the watches and warnings out tonight. All the way back into Chicago. So, we're talking about an area that's easily 100 million people getting snow. Detroit, Chicago, New York City, Washington, D.C. and even Boston.”
AMOUNTS-Champion notes that “this is a tricky storm” but “based on what we know now”…
–Washington D.C. 8 to 12 inches
–Philadelphia 15 to 20 inches
–New York City area 10 to 18 inches
–Boston 5 to 10 inches (Champion notes that the amount was “a little bit more than earlier anticipated”)
RECORDS-Sally Hawkins talked with NOAA officials who say that “3 cities could break their snowfall records tomorrow for most snow during a winter season”. DC needs 9.5 inches to break a record that’s stood since the winter of 1898-1899. For Philadelphia, 9.3 inches more to set a record there(current record is 65.5 inches winter 1995-1996). Atlantic City as well-they need 4.2 inches to set a new record(46.9 inches in 1966-67)
DC–Snow has already begun to fall in Washington, D.C., where beleaguered clean-up crews still haven’t dug out of Friday and Saturday’s mess.David Kerley, reporting on WORLD NEWS, details some of the problems this quick double whammy will pose to our nation’s capital: “Plows are breaking down…and there’s fear of a double freeze on the roads” Kerley notes. Even more onerous, the sheer weight of the snow on building roofs have officials worried about collapses. And it’s very real-Kerley: “The two feet of snow from the weekend storm on an average roof could weigh up to 11 thousand pounds…equal to an elephant.” Kerley also notes the good news/bad news scenario for the thousands of people still without electricity: “Power may be restored tonight but these same homes could be threatened tomorrow”.  The Federal Government will be closed tomorrow-day three of a shut-down that has seen over 200 thousand non-emergency federal workers staying home. On Capitol Hill, the House called off all votes for the week because many members couldn't get back from their districts. A committee hearing on the Toyota gas pedal recall was postponed. The Senate was in session today, working on the jobs bill but will not meet tomorrow. The White House decided to move up by a day a Black History Month concert featuring Bob Dylan, Smokey Robinson and Natalie Cole. It had been slated for Wednesday, but was instead moved to this evening.
TRAVEL—As you can imagine with the size of this storm, travel will be difficult. Lisa Stark reports “How many flights were cancelled today?- looks like easily over 3000 – this is according to data I gleaned from FlightStats.com for just the airports in Chicago, DC area, NY area, Detroit. Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Richmond, Virginia.
How many cancellations on tap for tomorrow? It'll certainly be more than today.   I have not heard back from all the airlines, but already USAirways plans 1422 cancellations tomorrow, Continental 850, United 600, Air Tran 154.  Southwest will scrap ALL flights tomorrow at BWI, Philadelphia, Islip (Long Island), LGA and Dulles.  Delta, which canceled 426 today says there will be many more tomorrow, but couldn't give me a number. I would say a conservative estimate for tomorrow is 2,000 flights cancelled in the DC area,  maybe a 1000 at Philadelphia, we know of over 800 at Newark. I say between 4 and 5000 for tomorrow is, again, a conservative estimate!” Rail travel may be a bit easier. Stark tells us that Amtrak plans to continue to offer limited Acela Express and Regional Service on the Northeast Corridor tomorrow.

CALIFORNIA MUDSLIDES:  Homeowners in the foothills north of Los Angeles are being told to evacuate ahead of another winter storm that could result in another muddy mess. More than 540 homes are affected on the hillsides of La Canada, Flintridge and other nearby communities where sheriff’s deputies are knocking on doors, telling residents they should leave.  Many people were seen leaving, lugging clothing and backpacks to their cars.  Much of the area was already crusted with mud that had flowed down the hillside last weekend, after heavy rains brought mudslides that damage more than 40 homes.  Another two inches of rain is possible in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains where debris basins have already overflowed. Some 300 trucks are working 24-7 to clear the debris. (thanks to Ed Bailey for this entry) 

OBAMA’S BIPARTISAN MEETING:  Tense moments during a closed door meeting between President Obama and bipartisan leaders at the White House this morning. “Sources tell ABC news that in their meeting, House Republican leader John Boehner said job creation is slow-going because of ‘significant uncertainty’ among business leaders because of ‘concerns about Democratic policies’ on health care reform and energy,” Jake Tapper reported on WORLD NEWS.  Obama disputed this during his afternoon briefing: “I think that the biggest uncertainty has been, we just went through the worst recession since the Great Depression.”  Tapper also reports the President said “he talks to business leaders all the time…and their concerns are that they’re not convinced Washington can agree on anything. Your argument is that if we don’t pass health care reform or energy legislation then that amounts to certainty, the president said.”  Obama also criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the 63 holds Republicans had put against the president’s nominees, as well as for statements made against the debt reduction commission, which he had previously supported.  Tapper again: “The president asked McConnell and Boehner to join Reid and Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., in pledging to appoint members to his fiscal commission, formed by executive order, which he said would be based on the same fiscal commission that failed in the Senate.  Boehner argued that if the White House is serious about cutting spending then it should start now…Both McConnell and Boehner refused to make any commitments on appointing members to the president’s debt reduction commission, saying they want to see the details of the proposal before they can sign off.” (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

FIRST LADY OBESITY CAMPAIGN:  First Lady Michelle Obama launched “Let’s Move,” her campaign against childhood obesity today.  Sharyn Alfonsi reports: “Obesity is a growing epidemic.  One in every three children in the US is overweight.  And for the first time ever American children are on track to live shorter lives than their parents…being overweight has some surprising consequences to young bodies.  Overweight girls are more likely to enter puberty earlier while overweight boys tend to have delayed puberty.  The arteries of overweight children often look like those belonging to a 45 year old and that can lead to heart disease.  They’re also likely to suffer from asthma and liver problems.”  The First Lady’s campaign includes helping parents make better food choices for their families, healthier food choices in school vending machines and cafeterias, increasing the availability and affordability of healthy food choices and encouraging children to exercise more frequently.  In addition, the Food and Drug Administration plans to work with food manufacturers to make food product labels more “customer friendly” and the American Academy of Pediatrics will encourage doctors to measure children’s body mass index.  Parents can find more information about the program and tips on www.letsmove.gov. (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)

TOYOTA-When it rains…Lisa Stark/Margaret Conley report: “In its second recall in one day, Toyota announced Tuesday that it plans to recall just over 7,300 2010 Camrys for a brake defect. The problem, if not fixed, could result in leaking brake fluid, and make it more difficult for a driver to stop the car.
Earlier Tuesday, Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda announced the company had recalled 437,000 Prius and Lexus vehicles, the latest in a series of recalls that affect nine million cars worldwide.
The issue with the Camrys, according to documents filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, is a power steering hose that is too long and can rub up against a tube for the left rear brake. That could cause the brake tube to wear through, leading to a leak of brake fluid.” 
Note: Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood will be a live guest on GOOD MORNING AMERICA to talk about Toyota and the US government’s response to the crisis.

OTHER STUFF-
HONDA PROBLEMS- It's not just Toyota with recall woes. Honda says it's adding more than 378,000 cars to a safety recall involving air bags. That bumps the total recall to more than 822,000 vehicles. Honda says it knows of 12 incidents linked to the problem, with 11 injuries and one death. (AP)
MTV:MUSIC TELEVISION NO MORE-Rolling Stone’s web site reports that MTV will no longer include the words “Music Television” under its’ logo. The network rarely plays videos and is probably best known now for decidedly non-music fare like “Jersey Shore” and “The Hills”. (Jan Simmonds/Rolling Stone.com)

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