- No rain or snow is forecast on Wednesday for the inauguration.
- As President-elect Joe Biden’s term begins at noon, the temperature should be in the upper 30s or near 40 degrees.
- Sometimes the Inauguration Day weather gets as much attention as the ceremony itself.
While this will be an Inauguration Day like no other, the weather on Wednesday will not be all that unusual for mid-January in Washington, D.C., forecasters said.
As President-elect Joe Biden’s term begins at noon, the temperature should be in the upper 30s or near 40 degrees, according to AccuWeather. The average temperature at noon on Jan. 20 in Washington is about 37 degrees, the National Weather Service said.
Winds are forecast to be on the breezy and blustery side, however, which will drop the wind chills down into the upper 20s.
No rain or snow are forecast.
Overall, the 59th inaugural ceremonies will be much smaller than in previous years because of security concerns and the health risks posed by COVID-19. Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will still take the oath of office on the Capitol’s West Front. Tickets for the ceremony will be limited.
Rep. James Clyburn, co-chair of the Biden inaugural committee, said he expects a couple of thousand people to attend.
“We’re going to make sure that people participate in a way that will make them a part of the event but keep them safe and healthy and comfortable,” he said, noting the usually “icy cold” weather.
“We’re going to do it in such a way that you will be a part of it, but you can stay warm at home in your pajamas and enjoy it” on television, he said.
There will be no inaugural parade this year: Officials scrubbed the traditional parade in favor a largely virtual event.
But Biden, Harris and their spouses will participate in a Pass in Review ceremony on the Capitol’s East Front with members of the military after the swearing-in.
Security will be higher than at any Inauguration Day in history because of the deadly Jan. 6 riots at the U.S. Capitol. Not in modern times has an inauguration been staged amid such domestic turmoil.
Elsewhere across the nation on Wednesday, for any protests that might occur, the weather looks to be benign, with no major snowstorms or cold outbreaks. There could be some rain, however, across portions of the the South and Southwest throughout the day, the weather service said.
The history of Inauguration Day weather
Sometimes the Inauguration Day weather gets as much attention as the ceremony itself.
“The worst weather on the face of the Earth,” one congressman said about the heavy snow, frigid temperatures and howling winds that nearly buried the inauguration of William Howard Taft on March 4, 1909. Strong winds toppled trees and telephone poles across the city, the weather service said.
Inauguration Day was moved from March 4 to Jan. 20 in the 1930s, in part because of a desire for less rainy, snowy weather. It’s colder in January, but the chance for rain or snow in the Washington area is less. Since 1937, inaugurations have had an average high temperature of 40.9 degrees and an average low of 27.5 degrees, according to the Capital Weather Gang.
The warmest January Inauguration Day was President Ronald Reagan’s first one in 1981, when the temperature hit 55 degrees at noon. Freakish cold – with wind chills as low as 20 degrees below zero – forced Reagan’s second inauguration in 1985 to be moved indoors.
The rainiest was in 1937 for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s second inauguration when 1.77 inches of rain fell.
Miserably cold, wet conditions on Inauguration Day in 1841 may even have contributed to the death of one president. William Henry Harrison refused to wear a hat and coat while standing outside for his 1-hour, 40-minute inaugural address. He caught pneumonia, possibly because of exposure that day, and died a month later.
Contributing: Michael Collins and Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY