Storms set to dampen Trump’s Independence Day celebrations

Donald Trump’s plans to stage “the show of a lifetime” for America’s Independence Day celebrations is facing the threat of thunderstorms.

Heavy rain and storms are set to batter Washington on Thursday which will make conditions for a planned military flypast difficult.

The storms are expected to begin mid-afternoon and go on until midnight local time.

NBC weather forecaster Doug Kammerer said: “There’s going to be a lot of rain during the duration of the celebrations.

“Rain is set to hit Washington at around 9pm – just when the firework display is about to start. But it’s going to be wet and stormy most of the day.”

A worker washes one of two M1A1 Abrams tanks that are loaded on rail cars at a rail yard on July 2, 2019 in Washington, DC. President Trump asked the Pentagon for military hardware, including tanks, to be displayed during Thursdays July 4th Salute to America celebration at the Lincoln Memorial
Image: The weather was fine on Tuesday when some of the tanks arrived in Washington

However, Molly Block, spokeswoman for the Department of Interior, reportedly said: “We fully expect (Thursday’s) events celebrating Independence Day on the national mall to take place rain or shine.”

Thousands of revellers – and protesters – are expected to flock to Washington’s national mall where tanks are in place for the display of US military muscle.

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It is almost seven decades since a president spoke on the mall on Independence Day.

The US was at war in Korea when US President Harry Truman addressed a large gathering on the Washington monument grounds in 1951, marking the 175th anniversary of the signing of the declaration of independence.

Mr Trump has described this year’s event as a “salute to America” to honour the armed forces.

The president will speak at the Lincoln memorial in front of a ticket-only, VIP crowd of Republican donors, administration and campaign officials, family members as well as the public.

U.S President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron attend the traditional Bastille day military parade on the Champs-Elysees on July 14, 2017 in Paris France. Bastille Day, the French National day commemorates this year the 100th anniversary of the entry of the United States of America into World War I
Image: Donald Trump has been keen on a military parade since his 2017 visit to Paris

The Pentagon is arranging for an Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and other warplanes to conduct flyovers.

There will be Navy F-35 and F-18 fighter jets, the Navy blue angels aerobatics team, army and coast guard helicopters and Marine V-22 Ospreys.

Mr Trump defended spending on the event, tweeting that the cost “will be very little compared to what it is worth”.

“We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel,” he said, referring to Maryland’s Joint Base Andrews, which is home to some of the planes.

Alpha jets from the French Air Force Patrouille de France fly over the Champs-Elysees avenue during the traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris, France, July 14, 2017
Image: The Bastille Day parade is a major event in Paris

“We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats.”

However, the Air Force has said a B-52 bomber costs $122,311 (£97,300) an hour to fly and the cost of the F-22 in the air is $65,128 (£51,800).

The parade has been designated a training event so the cost is already budgeted for, the Air Force said.

Mr Trump’s determination to throw such an event in the US came after he saw the Bastille Day parade in Paris two years ago.

Initial plans were scrapped due to the cost, objections from local officials in Washington DC and reluctance from then defence secretary Jim Mattis. But Mr Trump never quite gave up on that dream.

Kevin Donahue, District of Columbia deputy mayor for public safety, said the city expects the federal government to pay for any damage to streets or bridges from moving the tanks.

Civil engineers will assess roads and bridges after 4 July to assess whether any damage has been done.

The president’s “salute to America” is scheduled to take place between 6.30pm and 7.30pm local time (1.30pm and 2.30pm UK time).

Source: SKY NEWS

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