President Obama Cuts Vacation Short

President Barack Obama will cut short his vacation by a day to head back to the White House Friday before Hurricane Irene hits the U.S. East Coast, the White House said.

``In the mind of the president, he felt it was prudent for him to be at the White House this evening,'' said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

He said the decision had not been made because of a concern about Obama's personal safety, and the president's wife and daughters will travel back as planned Saturday.

The president warned earlier Friday that Irene threatened to be a hurricane of ``historic'' proportions and urged Americans to obey orders to evacuate from the path of what was likely to be an extremely dangerous .

Fifty-five million people are potentially in Hurricane Irene's path, from the Carolinas to Cape Cod on the U.S. East Coast, and tens of thousands are evacuating as cities including New York brace for the powerful storm to hit.

(Reporting by Alister Bull and Laura MacInnis, Editing by Sandra Maler)