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The Long, Storied History Of Inauguration Day Weather

It looks like it will rain on Donald Trump’s parade. The forecast from the National Weather Service – as well as from Model Output Statistics — suggests a greater than 60 to 70 percent chance of rain when Trump takes the oath of office to become president of the United States on Friday at about noon EST. (Of course, that means there’s about a 30 to 40 percent chance it won’t rain — higher than the chance we gave Trump of becoming president.) Precipitation falling on Jan. 20 is not unusual. Since 1937 (when the inauguration was moved to January), there’s been measurable rain or snow on 43 percent of Jan. 20ths. You might remember that rain also fell the last time a president who didn’t win the national popular vote was inaugurated, the day George W. Bush took the oath in 2001.

What is unusual about Friday’s weather is how warm it will be. The average of the low and high temperature is expected to be around 46 degrees. The average for Jan. 20 since 1937 has been about 35 degrees. Indeed, Friday’s average temperature is just 1 degree below the record for the warmest January Inauguration Day. Even counting inaugurations that took place in March, we have to look back over a century to find an Inauguration Day where the average temperature was higher than that 47 degree record for January ceremonies — it was 51 degrees for Woodrow Wilson’s swearing-in on March 4 in 1913.

Inauguration weather could be a lot worse — as the video above shows. There’s not going to be record snow, as there was in 1909, and there’s not going to be record cold, as there was in 1985. So if you’re attending the inauguration, put on a raincoat and be thankful that you won’t freeze.

Check out all episodes of “Harry’s History.”

Christine Laskowski was a video producer for FiveThirtyEight.

Harry Enten was a senior political writer and analyst for FiveThirtyEight.


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