Friday’s inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States will take place on the steps of the west front of the Capitol at noon and it looks like a close call in terms of wet weather.  Here in Maine, clouds will break for sunshine, temperatures will be in the upper 30s, not much colder than Washington where rain is in the forecast.

A warm front will  push northward through Virginia and toward Maryland, bringing clouds and a band of showers with steady rain along its northern flank.  The front will probably not affect the D.C. area, keeping the capital and the inauguration under cool damp conditions for the day.   Temperatures south of the warm front will be in the 50s, but that air will not make much northward progress Friday.

Temperatures will be cool with rain Friday morning in Washington, DC

There is a chance of showers during the actual ceremony, but the steadiest rain will probably be over.  I don’t expect a widespread soaking rain like the one that occurred in 1937, the year the inauguration was moved to January to avoid the bad weather in early March.

 Showers will occur Friday morning in the DC area.

Wettest On Record WeatherBell Analytics

According to the National Weather Service, .69 inches of rain fell in the two hours from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m in 1937.  All told, 1.77 inches of rain made the record books for January 20th that year and it’s still the record!

Inauguration weather can be highly variable.

Temperature Extremes

President Reagan has the distinction of being sworn in in both the coldest and warmest inaugurals. In 1981, the temperature reached 55 degrees at noon and would rise one more degree for the official high of 56,  but on the same day four years later, it was a bone chilling 7 and the ceremony was moved inside.

The average high temperature for Jan. 20 in Washington is 43 degrees.  However, that’s the 30-year average since 1981.  If you look at the average high temperature for January inaugurals alone it’s actually colder – only about 40 degrees.

Inaugural Blizzard

Prior to 1937, inaugurations were held on March 4th, or 5th if the 4th fell on a Sunday.  The snowy standout for a March ceremony was 1909 when a blizzard hit Washington.  Nearly 10 inches of snow fell on the day before and on the morning of  the inaugural.

Wear A Coat And Hat

Official weather records for D.C. go back only to 1873. This means weather information during inaugurations before that date are from personal accounts and other news sources.  Back in 1841, just after being sworn in, President Harrison delivered a one-hour, 40-minute speech in blustery and cold weather, with no overcoat or hat.  Tragically, he died of pneumonia a month later. Contemporaries believed that the weather he endured during his inauguration caused his illness, but he didn’t become sick until three weeks after the ceremony.

President Elect Taft and Roosevelt March 4th 1909. (Library of Congress)

President-elect Taft and President Roosevelt head for the March 4, 1909, inauguration in a blizzard. (Library of Congress) Library of Congress

President Obama will leave Washington and head to California for his vacation.  Although he might be expecting much warmer weather, it won’t be a dramatic change from what he’s leaving.

The crowd at Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration shows a rain-soaked street. March 4, 1865.

The crowd at Abraham Lincoln’s second inauguration shows a rain-soaked street. March 4, 1865. Everett Historical/Shutterstock


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