The forecast for Washington, DC on Wednesday calls for mostly sunny skies with a noon temperature around 40 degrees. It is expected to be a bit breezy, with sustained winds from the northwest at 10 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph.

The afternoon high temperature should warm a few more degrees, peaking at around 45 degrees, but wind gusts will keep the “feels like” temperatures in the mid 30s for most of the ceremony.

Blast from the past

By far the worst weather belongs to the two inaugurations that led to fatalities of those living in the White House.

In 1841, President William Henry Harrison was sworn into office on a miserable cloudy, cold and windy day. He stood outside for nearly two hours without a hat or overcoat. He wound up catching a cold which developed into pneumonia and he died just one month later.

Then, in 1853, outgoing first lady Abigail Fillmore, who was attending President Franklin Pierce’s very cold and snowy inauguration, sat on a cold, wet, and exposed platform during the ceremony. She ended up developing a cold as a result, which then turned into pneumonia, and she died at the end of the month.

Overview of Ronald Reagan inauguration 1981.

Don’t forget the date!

However, it is probably not fair to consider many of the Inauguration Days prior to 1937 since the seasons do not match.

In 1937 Inauguration Day was moved from March 4 to January 20 as a way to shorten the lame duck transition period.

For example, Woodrow Wilson in 1913 (first term) and Ronald Reagan in 1981 (first term) both had Inauguration Day weather consisting of cloudy skies and temperatures of 55 degrees. But one of those 55 degree days was in March (when the normal high is 52 degrees), and the other was in January (when the normal high is 43 degrees). So it is a bigger deal for Reagan than it was for Wilson.

The snowiest month of the year for DC is actually February, right in the middle of both inauguration dates.



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