Merkel postpones trip to meet Trump due to winter storm
BERLINGerman Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was already on her way to the airport on Monday to fly to Washington for her first meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump when he rang her to postpone the trip due to the approach of a winter storm.
The storm, Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14, dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations.
The White House said in a later statement the visit would be rescheduled to March 17.
“The president spoke to the Chancellor of Germany. They agreed due to the weather that the meeting should be postponed, rescheduled to March 17th,” Trump’s spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on March 13.
“The president and the chancellor look forward to reaffirming their shared determination to stand together in confronting mutual challenges,” the White House said in a later statement.
Merkel continued to Berlin’s Tegel airport after her 10-minute conversation with Trump to personally inform reporters who were due to travel with her to Washington of the change of plan.
“The trip is cancelled. That is not a joke,” Merkel told the dozen or more surprised reporters already seated on board the government’s Airbus A340 plane.
Merkel had been due to meet Trump for more than two hours on March 14, followed by a working lunch.
Top executives from three German companies, including engineering group Siemens and carmaker BMW, who had been due to travel with Merkel, would also participate in the postponed trip, officials said.
Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions.
The National Weather Service (NWS) said winter storm warnings were in effect from eastern West Virginia to Maine, “and blizzard warnings from eastern Pennsylvania to southwest Maine,” an area that includes New York City.
“Snowfall amounts in excess of a foot are likely inland along with strong and gusty winds. High winds and tidal flooding are going to be an issue for coastal areas north of the Outer Banks,” off the coast of North Carolina, the agency said.
More than 6,800 flights were cancelled for March 13 and March 14, with airports in New York, Boston, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia hit hardest, according to the tracking service FlightAware.