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William Howard Taft, center, watches the parade after his inauguration as the 27th president March 4, 1909. / AP

So what does the weather have in store for President Obama's second inauguration Monday, which will occur at noon on the steps of the U.S. Capitol? Most likely, chilly, windy conditions, thanks to a cold front barreling through the eastern U.S. that should put an end to the relatively mild weekend weather.

"There's cold air moving in," AccuWeather meteorologist Tom Kines says. "Monday's weather will depend on how quickly the cold air gets into the D.C. area." He says the worst-case scenario would be temperatures only in the 20s. But if the harshest of the cold air hasn't arrived, the temperature will be near 40 degrees.

He says a noontime temperature in the mid-30s is most likely.

There is also a 30% chance of some snow flurries brightening up the scene, according to Weather Underground meteorologist Jeff Masters.

The average afternoon high temperature in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 21 is 43 degrees, based on weather data from 1981 to 2010. The average low is 28 degrees, which is usually about dawn. On average, the temperature at noon, when the oath is given, is 37 degrees.

President Obama's first inauguration was unusually chilly, with a temperature of 28 degrees at noon, though wind-chill temperatures were near 15 degrees.

Sometimes the inaugural weather gets as much attention as the ceremony itself.

"The worst weather on the face of the Earth," said one congressman about the heavy snow, frigid temperatures and howling winds that nearly buried the inauguration of William Howard Taft in 1909.

Freakish cold - with wind chills as low as 20 degrees below zero - in 1985 forced President Reagan's second inauguration to be moved indoors.

Bad weather and Inauguration Day have had a long and stormy relationship: Miserably cold, wet conditions on Inauguration Day in 1841 even contributed to the death of one president (William Henry Harrison), who refused to wear a hat and coat while standing outside during his 1-hour and 40-minute inaugural address. He caught pneumonia, possibly due to exposure that day, and died a month later.

Inauguration Day was moved from March 4 to Jan. 20 in the 1930s, in part to hope for less rainy, snowy weather. (It's colder in January, of course, but the chance for rain or snow in the Washington area is less.)

Here are the records for inaugural weather since 1937, the first January Inauguration Day, according to the National Weather Service:

  • Warmest: 1981. President Reagan's first inauguration. Noon temperature: 55 degrees.
  • Coldest: 1985: Reagan's second inauguration. Noon temperature: 7 degrees. The inauguration was moved indoors.
  • Rainiest: 1937. President Franklin D. Roosevelt's second inauguration, when 1.77 inches of rain fell.
  • Snowiest: 1961. Eight inches of snow fell the night before John F. Kennedy was sworn in.
  • Warmest non-traditional date: (Aug. 9, 1974) - Gerald Ford; 89 degrees, with partly cloudy skies and hazy conditions.


  • Copyright 2014 USATODAY.com

    Read the original story: The stormy history of Inauguration Day weather

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