WASHINGTON — President Biden said Thursday that he had dismissed some of his White House aides for Christmas early due to extreme winter weather across the country.
“It’s not like a snow day, you know, when you’re a kid. This is serious stuff,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office before receiving a briefing from weather officials.
“I don’t know whether your bosses will let you, but if y’all have travel plans, leave now. Not a joke,” the president warned.
“I’m sending my staff if they have plans to leave on tomorrow, late tonight or tomorrow, I’m telling them to leave now. They can talk to me on the phone. It’s not life and death. But it will be if they don’t get out. They may not get out.”
Biden spoke just hours before a snowstorm is forecast to wallop the Midwest with blizzard-like conditions, creating possible travel hell in Chicago and other cities.
Intensely cold weather may pose an even greater threat over Christmas weekend, with well below freezing temperatures expected across much of the country, though much of the teeth-chattering East Coast won’t get a snowy white Christmas.
In New York City, the temperature on Christmas Eve morning is expected to be just 12 degrees Fahrenheit. In DC, it’s expected to reach 11 degrees. Philadelphia is expected to hit 10 degrees.
In Chicago, the temperature is expected to reach -6 degrees early on Dec. 23 as the storm moves through.
“This is really very serious weather,” Biden said Thursday. “And it goes from Oklahoma all the way to Wyoming and Wyoming to Maine. And it’s of real consequence. So I encourage everyone, please heed the local warnings … We’ve tried to contact 26 governors so far in affected regions and go to weather.gov for more information.”
Biden added: “My team is prepared to help communities weather this — no pun intended — this storm, this freeze, because we need to cope.”
The 80-year-old commander in chief plans to spend Christmas at the White House with his extended family before traveling to the Virgin Islands for vacation. Before hanging his stocking, Biden must sign legislation by 11:59 p.m. Friday to prevent a partial government shutdown.