No. 9: East Coast Blizzard

On February 7, the day after the first major winter storm of the year dumped two feet of snow on Washington, D.C., President Obama met with the Democratic National Committee and vowed — with his tongue firmly planted in his cheek — to face the weather with a “flinty toughness.” He scoffed that his daughters’ schools would be closed on a weekday. Democratic Party chair Tim Kaine joked that the weather resembled “Chicago in April,” even as one vehicle in the presidential motorcade slid into another on the White House driveway.

The president should have known that attitude would not go over well with Mother Nature. Snow fell all weekend, and, after a day and half of respite, a fierce blizzard walloped D.C. — along with the rest of the mid-Atlantic coast — bringing another two feet of snow. The federal government came to a screeching halt on Friday and stayed shuttered for four and half days, costing the American people $450 million in productivity.

An immobilized Capitol couldn’t have been more symbolic for the president, who was already experiencing a freeze of sorts in Congress. His push for the health care and jobs-creation bills was getting shut down by the opposition, and the “yes we can” fervor of his supporters seemed to have chilled. The weather only served to further stymie the president’s agenda.

Both the health and jobs bills have passed in some form. For people in D.C., Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York, the “Snowpocalypse” (also called “Snowmaggedon” by locals, the media, and the president himself) will be remembered for the snowdrifts that caved in roofs (even at the Smithsonian), caused an SUV to flip over, led to at least two deaths, canceled flights, closed schools, cut off power, and generally kept people indoors.

The time, however, may have been used productively: East Coast hospitals reported a recent baby boomlet in October, about nine months later.

–Lisa Hix