Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Inauguration Temperature Climatology

The current extended range temperature forecast, shown to the right, indicates a 40% chance of below-average temperatures in Washington for the second week of January. If similar conditions prevail for the Inauguration a week later, what would that imply for temperatures?

The chart of January 20 high temperatures from 1930-2007 shows that, on average, the most likely temperature range is 35-39° (22%), followed by 40-44° (21%). This is the case even though the average is 41.8° because the distribution is skewed toward higher temperatures.

The overall maximum was 70° in 1951 (not an Inauguration year). This is also the all-time high for the date. The next highest value, however, is 60° (1952, 1954, and 2006). Altogether, these are the only 4 instances in the last 78 years in which the high exceeded 59°.

The lowest maximum was 18° in 1994, also an all-time record, but not an Inauguration year. The coldest Inauguration Day was January 21, 1985, which had a record low maximum of 17° and a record low minimum of -4°. (January 20 fell on a Sunday that year.)

Images (click to enlarge): 8-14 day temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/National Weather Service/NOAA, CapitalClimate January 20 temperature chart from NWS data (chart image © Kevin Ambrose)

Click here for previous Inauguration weather posts, including a year-by-year chart of high and low temperatures and precipitation.

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Seasonal Outlook

Latest seasonal forecast: Click here.

Latest 3-month temperature outlook from Climate Prediction Center/NWS/NOAA.