Obama caught in Washington’s wintry weather

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Heavy snow and icy roads Wednesday night created hazardous condition for President Barack Obama as he returned to the White House from a trip to Wisconsin.

The wintry weather grounded Marine One, the helicopter that typically transports Obama to and from the military base where Air Force One lands. Instead, a motorcade met Obama at the base, and the line of vehicles spent an hour weaving through rush hour traffic already slowed by the storm.

It normally takes the president’s motorcade about 20 minutes to travel between the base and the White House.

The president cut short his post-State of the Union trip to Manitowoc, Wis., to try to beat the snow. But by the time Air Force One landed in suburban Maryland shortly before 5 p.m., heavy snow was falling and driving conditions had deteriorated.

Vehicles in the back of Obama’s motorcade, including two vans carrying members of the press, became separated from the SUV carrying the president for a short time, though the motorcade reconnected before Obama arrived at the White House.

Law enforcement officers often close off roads where the president may be traveling, but the roads were not cleared for his motorcade Wednesday. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Secret Service did not want to divert resources dealing with the storm in other parts of the Washington area.

Secret Service spokesman Ed Donovan said everyone in the president’s party returned to the White House safely. Commuters on the road were likely less affected by Obama’s motorcade than they would have been had officials closed his lengthy route to traffic, he said.