Jan 18 2013



President William Howard Taft's Inauguration 

The weather looks good for this coming Inauguration Day for President Obama. However the weather over the years have had a significant impact on Presidential Inauguration Days. Dr. Jeff Masters writes in his column about the impact of weather on this important day.

""The most infamous inauguration day weather occurred in 1841, when President William Henry Harrison was sworn in. Harrison, 68, gave a one hundred minute speech in cold, wet weather without wearing a coat or a hat. He spent a lot of time talking about ancient Rome to a mostly unappreciative audience. The new president then attended a parade and three inaugural balls, possibly in the same wet clothing he wore outside during the speech. Within a month, Harrison was dead from pneumonia and pleurisy. While there's a debate about what exactly killed Harrison, the inauguration was linked to his death.

Almost as bad--1853: President Franklin Pierce was sworn into office on another cold and snowy day. He awoke to heavy snow in the morning which continued until about 11:30 am. Skies looked to be brightening by noon. Shortly after Pierce took his oath of office, as he began his inaugural address, snow started again. It came down heavier than ever dispersing much of the crowd and ruining plans for the parade. Abigail Fillmore, First Lady to the outgoing President Millard Fillmore, caught a cold as she sat on the cold, wet, exposed platform during the swearing-in ceremony. The cold developed into pneumonia and she died at the end of the month.

Worst Weather Day--1909: President William H. Taft's ceremony was forced indoors due to a storm that dropped 10 inches of snow over the Capital city. The snow and winds began the day before. Strong winds toppled trees and telephone poles. Trains were stalled and city streets clogged. All activity was brought to a standstill. Sanitation workers shoveled sand and snow through half the night. It took 6,000 men and 500 wagons to clear 58,000 tons of snow and slush from the parade route. See pictures. Despite the freezing temperatures, howling wind, snow, and sleet, a large crowd gathered in front of the Capitol to view the inauguration, but the weather forced the ceremony indoors. Just after the swearing-in, the snow tapered off.

Warmest January Inauguration: 1981, Ronald Reagan; 55°F under mostly cloudy skies.

Coldest Inauguration: 1985, Ronald Reagan. His second swearing-in ceremony on January 21 had to be held indoors and the parade was canceled. The outside temperature at noon was only 7°F. The morning low was 4° below zero and the daytime high was only 17°. Wind chill temperatures during the afternoon were in the -10 to -20°F range."