Inauguration Day weather history

Weather 101

Happy Inauguration Day! I love weather history and presidential fun facts. So this post is right up my alley.

Since 1937, the presidential inauguration has been held on January 20. Washington D.C.’s average temperatures for the date are 43° and 28°. The normal noon temperature on Inauguration Day is 37°. While the day is often on the cold side, it seldom snows. There is a 1 in 10 chance of measurable snow, and a 1 in 20 chance of snow falling during the ceremony.

Are you ready for some fun facts? President Reagan had both the warmest and the coldest inaugurations. The first time he took the Oath of Office it was 55°. Four years later it was just 7° at noon with wind chills in the range of -10° to -20°.

FDR’s second term began on a cold and rainy day. This was the first time that the inauguration was held on January 20th. Between 11 AM and 1 PM, 0.69″ of rain fell. After the ceremony President Roosevelt rode to the White House with a half an inch of water on the floor of his open-air car. A total of 1.77″ of rain fell that day and it remains a record for the date.

President and First Lady Taft returning to the White House after the ceremony. (Library of Congress)

President Taft’s inauguration was the snowiest. Nearly 10 inches of snow fell on that day in 1909. The snow and howling winds forced the ceremony indoors.

John and Jackie Kennedy outside the White House on Inauguration Day in 1961. (Paul Schutzer/Life Pictures/Getty Images)

JFK holds the record for the most snow on the ground. On the eve of the inauguration, eight inches of snow fell and caused a crippling traffic jam around D.C. Hundreds of cars got stuck in the snow and were abandoned. The president-elect had to cancel his dinner plans. Even former President Herbert Hoover was unable to fly in due to the weather, and he ended up missing the swearing-in ceremony. Inauguration Day was clear but remained bitterly cold with a noon temperature of only 22°.

Inauguration Day wasn’t always on January 20th, and the Oath of Office hasn’t always been taken in our nation’s capital. The very first Inauguration day was on April 30, 1789 and the ceremony was held indoors. Teddy Roosevelt was sworn in as president in New York State on a 70-degree day in September. The Oath of Office has also been taken in the Green Mountain State by Calvin Coolidge. Gerald Ford had the warmest inauguration of any president. It was 89° and hazy when he became president after Richard Nixon resigned.

Capitol Cam courtesy of EarthCam

President-elect Biden will take the Oath of Office on a blustery day with peeks of sunshine. Gusts of 30-40 mph are expect the Washington during the afternoon.

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