Monday, January 21, 2013

Inauguration -- today's near-miss, and some history

Today's inauguration ceremonies for President Obama will take place under fairly nice conditions for this time of year.

Temperatures reached 60 degrees Sunday in Washington, and although it'll be quite a bit cooler today, the weather still will be better than what you'd expect in the nation's capital for Jan. 21.

If the ceremony were taking place eight hours later, or 24 hours later, it would be a lot different -- and not nearly so nice.

And in looking at history, you get even more appreciation for today's mild conditions. Some past U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated in horrible conditions.

For the official swearing-in ceremony at noon today, the forecast is for partly sunny skies and temperatures in the mid 40s. The average high for Jan. 21 in Washington is 43 degrees, and the temperatures might reach the upper 40s during Monday afternoon's inaugural parade.

A strong cold front, accompanied by a weak low pressure system, will cross the Mid-Atlantic later Monday. Snow could break out by late afternoon, temperatures definitely will be tumbling. All this will be accompanied by a stiff northwest breeze.  It's possible that an inch of snow could accumulate this evening.

Tuesday's high temperatures in Washington won't get out of the 20s, so it's a good thing the calendar has placed the inauguration today.

But as I said earlier, it could be worse.

The National Weather Service's office in Baltimore-Washington has produced a nice feature article, complete with photos, on the history of weather for the inauguration.

Anyone of my era probably remembers the inauguration of John F. Kennedy in 1961. The event already was historic, because Kennedy came into office as part of a new era in politics, as a fresh political face. He also came into office a day after an 8-inch snowstorm buried Washington.

Old video of the swearing-in ceremonies and subsequent parade make it look as if the inauguration took place in Duluth, not D.C.

Some other interesting tidbits from history ...

First, you'll remember that until Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inauguration in 1937, the event took place March 4.  In 1909, William Howard Taft's events were moved indoors because of an early-March snowstorm, with 10 inches of the white stuff. Winds knocked down trees and power poles.

A cold rain fell in 1841, when William Henry Harrison was sworn in. He caught pneumonia and died a month later.

In 1937, for the first Jan. 20 inauguration, a nor'easter moved up the East Coast. Temperatures were in the mid 30s, and more than 1 3/4 inches of rain fell in Washington. FDR insisted on riding in the inaugural parade in an open car.

Ronald Reagan's two inaugurations made history -- in different ways. In 1981, it was 55 degrees when he took the oath of office at noon. That's the warmest ever for a Jan. 20-21 inauguration.

But four years later, at his second inaugural, the parade was canceled in the wake of the worst arctic outbreak in the eastern United States in decades.  That was the outbreak that produced a low temperature of minus-5 degrees in Charlotte.  It was 7 degrees at noon that day in Washington, with wind chills of 20 to 25 degrees below zero.

Check out the Weather Service's article here


Weather Is What It Is said...

So how do you determine if weather is good, bad, or horrible? Is weather held to human standards of behaviour? You describe the weather tomorrow in Washington as "not nearly so nice." How so?

Not only do weather men attempt to forecast weather, they inform us if it will be good or bad as well.

Anonymous said...


Obama Again in 2016! said...

Well, the waether coperated for the Bets Prez ever!!!!