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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 01/13/2009

Inauguration Weather: Record Cold for Reagan

By Kevin Ambrose

* Full Forecast Thru Weekend | InaugurationCast | Stop the Scaremongering *

In a swirling snowstorm, police and security inspect the podium where President Ronald Reagan was supposed to have been sworn into office for a second term, Jan. 20, 1985. On the following day, extremely cold temperatures forced the swearing-in ceremonies to be moved indoors, and the inaugural parade was canceled. Source: "Washington Weather"

During the early-to-mid 1980s, the East Coast experienced some extraordinary cold waves that were dubbed the Siberian Express or Arctic Express. One of the last of these amazing cold waves occurred on Jan. 21, 1985, during Ronald Reagan's second inauguration. It remains the the coldest inauguration on record. The low temperature on Jan. 21 was -4°F and the temperature at noon was only 7°F. Wind chill temperatures fell to -10° to -20°F. The oath of office was moved inside to the Capitol Rotunda and the parade was canceled.

Keep reading for more on the extreme cold that impacted Reagan's second inauguration.

With one high-pressure block located near the Gulf of Alaska, and extending south to the Pacific Northwest, and another block located near Greenland, mild Pacific air is prevented from entering the West Coast and bitterly cold Arctic air is given a direct pipeline from the Arctic Circle into the continental U.S. Source: "Washington Weather"

In contrast to the record cold of 1985, Reagan's 1981 inauguration set the record for the warmest January inauguration, with the temperature hitting 55 degrees at noon.

Before 1937, inaugurations were held in early March. The record cold March inauguration occurred in 1873, with Ulysses S. Grant, when the temperature reached only 16°F at noon. The low that morning was 4°F and the wind chill was -15°F.

For more information, the National Weather Service Sterling Office has a good Web site that documents the inaugural weather for each president: Presidential Inaugural Weather.

By Kevin Ambrose  | January 13, 2009; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Inauguration, Inauguration Features, Photography  | Tags:  dc weather inauguration, inaugural weather, inauguration weather, Reagan inauguration weather, weather inauguration  
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I liked how the Post used Accuweather and the NWS for comments on this morning's inauguration weather story. Don't they know you exist? Just another example of poor journalism.

Posted by: MKadyman | January 13, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

Yes, you got trumped. I think it was this wp writer on WTOP this morning talking about inaguration weather history.

Posted by: uncledak | January 13, 2009 3:52 PM | Report abuse

Folks-- There were efforts to get us into the print story, but it didn't work out. It's likely you will see CWG more prominently in future print edition weather features.

Posted by: CapitalWeatherGang | January 13, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

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