Friday, December 19, 2008

Let's talk about the weather

As I sit waiting for a monstrous New York snow storm, my mind is on the weather.

Belinda Dixon was one of the New Yorkers with whom I talked after Election Night who was absolutely committed to going to D.C. for the Inauguration. “It’s like going shopping at Christmas. Even if you’re not buying anything, you just want to be part of the crowd,” said Dixon, 57, a Democratic district leader from Staten Island, and a secretary for the NYPD. Her officemates actually started a "Send Belinda to D.C." fund, contributing to a jar on her desk.

But Dixon changed her mind after not receiving a swearing-in ceremony ticket from her congressional representative. Dixon walks with a cane and was worried about standing for long periods and navigating the crowds without a bleacher seat on the parade route, especially if the weather is cold and nasty. Dixon is now planning just to watch it on television in N.Y. Dixon attended Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993, when she was a Democratic delegate. “As long as you can say you’ve been to one, that’s enough. Even if this is a historic one.”

So what is the deal with the weather? Weather has varied widely for past Inaugurations. Ronald Reagan bears the distinction of the two most extreme Inaugural weather days, with the warmest Inauguration on record in 1981—a balmy 51 degrees Fahrenheit—and the bitterest in 1985—at seven degrees Fahrenheit with a below-zero wind chill.

I called up weather forecaster Accuweather to ask about their prediction for Jan. 20. They couldn't give a specific prediction this far in advance (their range is limited to 15 days). But they could talk about patterns for the month of January. They are expecting mild weather patterns that month, and suggested that it could be warmer than the average high that day of 42 degrees. Niiice.

This also means that precipitation would come in the form of rain instead of snow. Which is a good thing, I suppose. I prefer snow to rain generally, but D.C. tends to show its Southern roots when snow hits. It has no idea what to do with it. When just a few flakes start falling, the city shuts down as if it were a massive Arctic blizzard at the End of Days.

Presidential Inaugural Weather [National Weather Service Forecast Office]

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