Washington Secrets

DC deep freeze to equal 1985's low when Reagan Inauguration cancelled

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Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Ronald Reagan,Weather

The federal government is urging workers and bureaucrats to brace for the arctic cold sweeping into the Washington area Tuesday, as some anticipate that the Obama administration will let many work from home instead of dashing from Metro stations to office buildings.

“We are monitoring the situation and employees should make sure that they are prepared for the incoming weather front,” a key federal official told Secrets.

In recent months, the government has been cautious in deciding if employees have to work in their office or not during bad weather. Just last week, when less than two inches of snow were predicted for the District, the Office of Personnel Management let employees telework.

It is expected to be 9 degrees in Washington during Tuesday’s rush hour.

Washington has a history of changing plans when the temperatures dip to near zero. In 1985, President Reagan moved his second Inauguration indoors, fearing that supporters and first-responders would be hurt by exposure to the 9 degrees expected during the swearing in.

He said in a statement at the time that “exposed flesh can freeze within five to 10 minutes,” and he worried that the standard Inaugural Parade would endanger people. "The health and safety of those attending and working at these outdoor events must come before any celebrations," he said.

Paul Bedard, The Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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