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Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Cold is the New Warm Even on Inauguration Days

By Joseph D’Aleo, CCM, AMS Fellow

Michael Beschloss is an award-winning historian and the author of eight books.  His most recent book was the acclaimed New York Times best-seller The Conquerors: Roosevelt, Truman and the Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1941-1945.

In May 2007, Simon and Schuster published his next book, Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America, 1789-1989. Newsweek has called Beschloss “the nation’s leading Presidential historian.”

NBC’s Presidential historian Beschloss today commented as the Obama Family was walking along the wooden walkway across the White House lawn to the reviewing stand, that perhaps it was there because snow was more common on past Inauguration Days and that the lack of snow the last three inaugurations was a sign of global warming.

The other reporters were speechless as most people were obviously feeling anything BUT global warming. Washington’s temperatures today ranged from 19F in the morning to 30F in the afternoon with wind chills running 10-15F sometimes lower.  According to D.C. fire and EMS department spokesman Alan Etter between 4 a.m. until 10 a.m., the fire department responded to more than 60 calls from people falling down or complaining of the being cold. About 20 people have been hospitalized. Two of those hospitalized were teenage girls with breathing problems who came from the First Aid tent at the Natural History Museum. A volunteer at the aid station said subfreezing weather and the long wait had begun taking its toll.

It ranked among the coldest inauguration days since the event was moved out of doors in 1817 with James Monroe’s Inauguration on a sunny warm 50F day in 1817. The coldest day was Reagan’s Inauguration in 1985.  Reagan’s second swearing-in ceremony on January 21 had to be held indoors and the parade was canceled. The outside temperature at noon was only 7F. The morning low was 4F below zero and the daytime high was only 17F. Wind chill temperatures during the afternoon were in the -10 to -20F range. The warmest was 57F on Andrew Jackson’s big day in 1829. The Inauguration was moved from March 4 to January 20th in 1937 which explains some of the early warmer years.

The temperature this Inauguration Day averaged 9 degrees below normal. A few hundred miles to the south, a heavy snowstorm was raging in North Carolina even to the coast (3 inches at Kitty Hawk) and freezing temperatures are being felt all the way down into parts of southern Florida while the partying goes on in DC. Not a omen of global warming for sure.

See the story here I wrote on Intellicast this week on all the past inaugurations with data compiled by NWS.  See pdf of this summary here.

Posted on 01/20 at 03:35 PM
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