Inauguration Weather

Today, Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States in Washington D.C. Many, many, many people have written about Trump, about the November election, and what happened in the US. I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing about this orangutang which swung into the Whitehouse. So I’m not going to write about him. Instead, I want to write about the weather at the inauguration.

At nine minutes past ten on the morning of the inauguration, this forecast was tweeted for the upcoming day:

The rain began just as the newly sworn-in President began his inaugural address. As the rain began to splatter onto the Donald’s jacket, umbrellas were rapidly dispatched and George W. Bush had a rather unfortunate incident with a poncho (although not his first slip up with one). The Reverend Franklin Graham consoled Trump’s sprit, if it had been dampened by the weather, by telling him that rain is a sign of blessing in the bible. Many commentators mused if he was referring to the time that God blessed Noah with rain.

Inaugurations aren’t supposed to be particularly pleasant, warm affairs. The first inaugurations were held indoors, but two hundred years ago in 1817, on a warm and sunny March morning, the inauguration was held outside for the first time. The oath has only been administered a handful of times since then indoors, with Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural oath being the most recent of those occurrences when temperatures dropped to minus 14 celsius, or 7 degrees fahrenheit. Cold inaugurations have lead to tragedy: in 1841, William Henry Harrison gave an inaugural address that lasted one hour and forty minutes without a hat or a coat, leading to him contracting pneumonia and dying one month later. The inauguration is a ceremony not meant to be comfortable.

JFK’s inauguration, 1961. Image via the Atlantic.

Perhaps the most well known inauguration ceremonies is the one of JFK in 1961. It was the third coldest ceremony in US history as temperatures were down to -5C, or 22F. Watching Kennedy’s address, you can see his breath pluming with his speech and rising quickly above those gathered on the podium behind him. The sky is bright blue and the winter sun throws its cold but piercing light on those in attendance. The weather of that day seems to chime with the tone of Kennedy’s immortal words: the promise of the future that seems bright around the corner.

Image via Reuters.

The overcast sky didn’t scream the promise of the future which Kennedy’s inauguration commanded, but that doesn’t really say anything significant. What is more significant was how warm the day was. Trump’s inauguration was one of the warmest on record. The rain might have been of heaven, but the increasing warmth is something of human hands, whether the new President accepts it or not. With warmer climates and the north of the US predicted to become wetter, everyone better be settled to inaugurations that wheel out umbrellas. And George better learn how to wear a poncho.

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