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Weather doesn't always cooperate on Inauguration Day

Friday - 1/18/2013, 11:33am  ET

AP: e5404959-f3e9-479b-a69c-b2147379487d
This Jan. 20, 1961 black-and-white file photo shows President John F. Kennedy and Mrs. Kennedy walk outside the White House during inauguration ceremonies, just as the parade began. An 8-inch snowfall on the eve of Kennedy's inauguration in 1961 left hundreds of cars marooned and thousands more abandoned. (AP Photo, File)
  • Gallery: (2 images)

Dave Dildine, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - The weather during past presidential inaugural ceremonies has run the gamut from fierce snowstorms to blinding rain to mild temperatures and sunny skies.

Winter has not been kind to many presidents and the inaugural committees in charge of coordinating the day's events.

Since President Franklin D. Roosevelt's second term, the inaugural ceremonies have been held outdoors during the heart of the winter season, normally on Jan. 20. The average high temperature on Jan. 20 in Washington is 43 degrees.

Typically the coldest time of the year, late January can also be the most tempestuous period for Washington weather.

A few inaugurations have been marred by strong storms and fierce winds.

Franklin Roosevelt's second inauguration took place on a raw, soggy day with heavy rain and temperatures hovering just above freezing. A record 1.77 inches of precipitation fell, much of it recorded around mid-day and during the swearing-in.

A major January blizzard the day before President John F. Kennedy's inauguration caused near white-out conditions in Washington through the early morning. Crowds waded through 8 inches of wind-blown snow during the swearing-in as temperatures hovered in the low 20s.

Of the past 19 January inauguration days, six have featured some form of measurable precipitation.

Still, some of the nation's past presidents have enjoyed mild weather on their first day in office.

President Ronald Reagan was greeted with a daytime temperature of 55 degrees - making his the warmest January inauguration - and mostly cloudy skies for his ceremony in 1981.

His second inauguration, however, was the coldest on record, with a noon temperature of 7 degrees above zero.

George H. Walker Bush's ceremony was held on a breezy afternoon with temperatures in the low 50s.

According to the WTOP Weather Center, President Barack Obama's second inauguration will be cold with temperatures in the 30s.

January Presidential Inauguration Weather

Year PresidentNoon Temp.Weather
2009Barack Obama28 FSunny, breezy, very cold
2005George W. Bush35 FMostly cloudy
2001George W. Bush36 FRain, changing to light snow late, with fog
1997William Jefferson Clinton34 FPartly sunny
1993William Jefferson Clinton40 FSunny, seasonably cold
1989George Bush51 FMostly cloudy and mild
1985Ronald Reagan7 FSunny, bitterly cold.
1981Ronald Reagan55 FMostly cloudy and mild
1977Jimmy Carter28 FSunny and cold
1973Richard Nixon42 FCloudy and windy
1969Richard Nixon35 FCloudy, late rain and sleet
1965Lyndon B. Johnson38 FCloudy
1961John F. Kennedy22 FHeavy snow early, very cold
1957Dwight D. Eisenhower44 FLight snow early, flurries
1953Dwight D. Eisenhower49 FCloudy
1949Harry S. Truman38 FMostly sunny and windy
1945Franklin D. Roosevelt35 FLight snow early
1941Franklin D. Roosevelt29 F Sunny and cold
1937Franklin D. Roosevelt33 FCold, heavy rain, sleet
Blue indicates five coldest temperatures.
Source: NOAA/NWS Sterling, Va.
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