Dress warmly: Inauguration expected to be windy, cold

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Local,DC,Andy Brownfield,Inauguration

Bundle up.

It's going to be cold for Monday's inauguration, with highs forecast to be in the mid-30s and a strong wind expected to make it feel much colder on the National Mall. And don't forget the possible snow.

Though the air temperature will not be as cold as for President Obama's first inauguration in 2009, when the mercury reached a mere 28 degrees, the wind chill is projected to be in the low 30s.

The forecasted high for Monday is 36 degrees, but it is expected to be about 34 when Obama is sworn in about 11:30 a.m., said Christopher Strong, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sterling.

Those heading out early to claim real estate on the Mall are going to have to brave temperatures in the mid-to-low 20s.

On top of that, Strong is expecting wind.

"On Monday, there's a cold front coming through that will bring the coldest air of the season behind it," he said.

Inauguration Day -- traditionally held on Jan. 20 -- is typically cold. Historically, the average high has been 43 degrees, while the average low has been 28. But standing for hours in temperatures that are likely to be a hair above freezing can become uncomfortable -- even dangerous -- for anybody.

Strong advises inauguration attendees to dress warmly and not be surprised to see snow flurries, of which he predicts a 30 percent chance.

Dr. Gary Little, medical director of the George Washington University Hospital, said visitors can take steps to avoid cold-related health problems.

The hospital advises those attending the inauguration to wear hats, water-resistant coats, scarves or knit masks to cover their faces and mouths, and gloves or mittens, adding that mittens are warmer than gloves.

Though the last inauguration wasn't exactly balmy, it was by no means the coldest.

In 1985, when Ronald Reagan was sworn in for his second term, attendees had to brave temperatures that hit 7 degrees. Those at John F. Kennedy's inauguration had to contend with 22-degree temperatures and 8 inches of snow.

abrownfield@washingtonexaminer.com

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