The 6 US Presidential Inaugurations with the Worst Weather

  • Jan 19, 2017

US Presidential Inauguration 2017

The US presidential inauguration will take place on Friday, January 20th 2017. Since 1789, presidential inaugurations have been a ceremony celebrated by the citizens of the United States to welcome in a new administration. On Friday, the US will swear in the 45th President of the United States: Donald Trump. Since the ceremony is outdoors, the weather always has an impact on the event and its attendees. US inaugurations currently take place in January, which is a tricky month for weather in Washington, DC. What weather will greet President Trump? We’re sure he hopes it’s not like any of the inaugurations that made our list!

The 6 Presidential Inaugurations with the Worst Weather

1. Ronald Reagan

While Reagan’s first inauguration was the warmest January inauguration ever (55 degrees,) his second ceremony was freezing! It was so cold outside that officials moved the event indoors to protect attendees from frostbite. While the average low temperature for January 20th in Washington, DC is 28 degrees, temperatures dropped as low as 7 degrees on Reagan’s 1985 inauguration. Wind chills that day even dipped to minus-20 degrees!

2.Ulysses S. Grant

The next inauguration with the worst weather was Ulysses S. Grant’s. Even though it was a March 4 ceremony, Grant’s second inauguration was extremely cold! The 1873 ceremony took place on one of the coldest March days ever recorded at just 16 degrees. The parade, fireworks and Inaugural Ball in Judiciary Square still took place, but most refused to remove their coats.

3. James K. Polk

Cold isn’t the only weather problem for presidents on Inauguration Day. The third ceremony to make the list is James K. Polk’s. In 1845, heavy rain soaked Polk’s ceremony. 0.40 inches fell on the capital that day and had attendees standing in ankle-deep mud under umbrellas.

4. William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison is a president that most people forget. That’s because he only served as Commander in Chief for 32 days before he succumbed to an illness (most likely pneumonia) contracted on his inauguration day. Harrison’s inaugural speech was the longest ever at one hour and 45 minutes. He gave the 8,445 word address on a cold March day without a hat or a coat, which lead to the infection that claimed his life on April 4, 1841.

5. Benjamin Harrison

William’s grandson, Benjamin Harrison, also had bad weather at his inauguration. Luckily for him, though, it was rain and not the cold! On March 4, 1889 the high was 43 degrees, but 0.86 inches of rain fell on the ceremony. This made it nearly impossible for horses and carriages to move towards the event.

6. William H. Taft

The lastt inauguration on our list is the swearing in of William H. Taft. Although he is best known for getting stuck in his bathtub, Taft had particularly nasty weather on his first day as President of the United States. The temperature was at the freezing mark as snow fell the night before and the day of the ceremony. 10 inches of snow covered the ground by 12:20pm but the ceremony carried on.

Inauguration Fun Facts



  • Thomas Jefferson’s inauguration was the first in Washington, DC
  • George Washington’s speech was the shortest, with just 135 words
  • Martin Van Buren was the first US president not born a British subject
  • Franklin Pierce memorized his speech
  • Lincoln’s inauguration in 1865 was the first that allowed African-Americans to participate in the inaugural parade
  • Inaugurations occurred in March until 1933, when the 20th Amendment was ratified