It could be the first sunny Inauguration Day since President Bill Clinton was sworn in for his first term – nearly three decades ago. However, a 20% chance of snow showers could keep a sunny swearing in from happening.
“Best timing for this (flurries) would be mid-morning into early afternoon,” the National Weather Service said.
That falls within the time period of the inauguration ceremonies. Joe Biden is scheduled to be sworn in as President at noon.
If these snow showers don’t materialize, it will be sunny. The forecast for Washington, DC on Wednesday calls for sunny skies with a noon temperature around 40 degrees. It is expected to be blustery, with sustained winds from the northwest at 10 to 20 mph, with gusts up to 38 mph.
The afternoon high temperature should warm a few more degrees, peaking at around 41. Still, wind gusts will keep the “feels like” temperatures in the upper-20s to mid-30s for most of the ceremonies.
Compared to the last few inaugurations, the upcoming one looks like it will have some of the most ideal weather conditions in the 21st century.
- Donald Trump’s 2017 inauguration: Temperature of 48 degrees at noon. Cloudy. Sprinkles at swearing in ceremony; light rain at start of parade. South winds around 5 mph.
- Barack Obama’s 2013 inauguration: Cloudy. South wind 7 mph. Temperature of 45 degrees at noon.
- Obama’s 2009 inauguration: Filtered sun through cirrus clouds. Breezy winds gusting around 20 to 25 mph. Temperature of 28 degrees at noon with wind chill values as low as the mid teens.
- George W. Bush’s 2005 inauguration: Mostly cloudy skies with a temperature of 35 degrees at noon. Around 1 inch of snow was already on the ground.
- Bush’s 2001 inauguration: A cool dreary day, with rain and fog – visibility down to 2 miles, and a temperature of 36 degrees at noon.
- Bill Clinton’s 1997 inauguration: Temperature of 34 degrees at noon with mostly cloudy skies.
- Clinton’s 1993 inauguration: Sunny and pleasant with a noon high of 40 degrees.
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.
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.