Tomorrow is Inauguration Day, and many may be wondering what kind of weather Washington, D.C. will see, since it is mid-January, after all.
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Well, the good news is temperatures will not be harsh or frigid; they will be on the mild side for the middle of winter, with highs nearly reaching 50 degrees. That means there are no worries of snow, ice or dangerous winter conditions. The bad news is there is a chance of rain throughout much of the day.
Inaugural celebrations begin at 9:00 a.m. Temperatures will be at their coldest of the day, in the upper 30s, but gradually rising. A brief hit of rain is possible right before and just at the start of the ceremony.
By noon, temperatures are up to the mid 40s, approaching that mild 50 degree mark. After a brief lull in the rain for the mid-morning hours, steadier rain moves in around noon.
Moderate rain is possible from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. After 3 p.m., some brief heavy downpours are possible, just as the parade is about to start. The beginning of the parade may be a bit soggy, but then the rain should clear up, and the rest of the afternoon and evening look dry.
This certainly will not be the worst weather ever on Inauguration Day. As recently as eight years ago, for Barack Obama's first inauguration, it was a freezing 28 degrees, with wind chills in the mid-teens. The coldest inauguration was in 1985, when it was only 7 degrees as Ronald Reagan took his second oath of office. The wind chills fell to 10 to 20 degrees below zero that day.
But it could have been worse. The worst weather for an inauguration was in 1909, when President William H. Taft's ceremony was forced indoors as a major storm dropped 10 inches of snow in the city. The storm began the night before, causing downed trees, toppling telephone poles and crippling traffic — essentially bringing the capital to a standstill. It took 6,000 men and 500 wagons to clear 58,000 tons of snow from the parade route.
Terrible — and this time tragic — Inauguration Day weather hit in 1841, when President William Henry Harrison was sworn in on a very cold and very windy day. His speech lasted nearly two hours outdoors, and he then rode his horse without a hat or coat. After being in such harsh conditions, he developed a cold, which eventually led to pneumonia. He died a month later.
Severe winter weather is always a possibility in the nation's capital on Inauguration Day because it falls in January (or it has been since 1937, when the day was moved up from March 4). Although it might rain a bit on the parade this time around, it could have been much worse.