The National Weather Service office located in Sterling, Virginia (the Baltimore/Washington office) came out with an incredible list of information highlighting all kinds of historical information regarding the weather during past inaugurations. The link to the page can be found here, but I also wanted to highlight some of the information they compiled below that I found rather interesting. Big thanks to the team out there at the weather service, great work!
The first outdoor inauguration was held in March of 1817 when James Monroe was sworn into office. The date was moved to January 20th or 21st in 1937. The climate normals for January 21st in D.C. (this year's inauguration date) are 43 degrees for the high and 28 degrees for the low. The records for the date are 70 degrees in 1959 and -4 degrees in 1985. 1985 was actually the coldest inauguration date in history when Ronald Reagan was sworn in for the second time. The outside temperature at Noon was 7 degrees and the high for the day was only 17 degrees!
According to the National Weather Service, there is a 1 in 3 chance of measurable precipitation on any given inauguration day and a 1 in 6 chance during the ceremony. There is only a 1 in 10 chance of measurable snow on that day and a 1 in 20 chance of snow during the ceremony. There is also typically a 1 in 6 chance that there will be at least 1" of snow already on the ground from previous snowfall, though that doesn't appear very likely this year.
Oddly enough, the coldest and warmest inauguration days belong to Ronald Reagan, with temperatures once again in the single digits for the swearing in in 1985, which had to be held indoors and the parade was canceled with wind chills during the afternoon of 10 to 20 below zero. The warmest temperature recorded was 4 years earlier in 1981 for Reagan's first inauguration when temperatures hit 55 degrees.
- Ronald Reagan's second inauguration ceremony had to be held indoors
The first inauguration held in January in 1937 was met with record rainfall for Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inauguration. Between 11am and 1pm, 0.69 inches of rain fell, on the way to a whopping 1.77 inches for the day which remains the record for January 20th.
The worst weather day was in 1909 when 9.8 inches of snow fell in early March for William Taft's ceremony.
- President William H. Taft's ceremony was forced indoors due to nearly 10 inches of snow that fell starting the night before
Weather also caused two deaths from complications of pneumonia. President William Henry Harrison was sworn into office in 1841. His speech lasted over an hour and a half and rode a horse to and from the Capitol without a hat or overcoat. He caught a cold that turned into pneumonia which he perished from one month later. President Franklin Pierce was sworn in on a cold and snowy day in 1853. His wife ended up catching a cold which eventually turned into pneumonia which she died from at the end of the month.
Temperatures are expected to be much colder by tomorrow and should continue to be more winter-like through inauguration next Monday. We will be blogging about the forecast and will continue to keep you updated through the week. Here are some interesting tidbits you can share with those around you while you're waiting for the ceremony next Monday!