Latest inaugural forecast: Bit warmer than in 2009

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Associated Press

Posted on January 20, 2013 at 3:06 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Consider it the first fact check of a Barack Obama campaign pledge for his second term: Will he, or Mother Nature, deliver on promised warmer Inauguration Day weather?

It's shaping up as a close call.

In September, while campaigning in Colorado, Obama was talking to a potential voter who mentioned he had been one of the hundreds of thousands of people outdoors at Obama's bone-chilling first inaugural in 2009, when the noontime temperature was 28 degrees. Obama promised: "This one is going to be warmer."

Scientifically, the president can't control the weather of course. Still, it's a promise that for a long time looked close to a sure thing with the average high on Jan. 21 being about 43 degrees.

An Arctic cold front looks to be racing toward the mid-Atlantic, so it will be slightly cooler than normal on Monday — and with a chance of snow — but not as cold as it was in 2009. Look for highs around 40 degrees with noon temperatures in the mid- to upper 30s. That would keep Obama's pledge.

There's also a 40 percent chance of scattered snow showers. But the Arctic cold front won't arrive until Monday night into Tuesday.

Extreme cold on Inauguration Day, folklore says, can be a killer.

In 1841, newly elected president William Henry Harrison stood outside without a coat or hat as he spoke for an hour and 40 minutes. He caught a cold that day and it became pneumonia and he died one month after being sworn in.

Twelve years later, outgoing first lady Abigail Fillmore got sick after sitting outside on a cold wet platform as Franklin Pierce was inaugurated and she died of pneumonia at the end of the month. Doctors now know that pneumonia is caused by germs, but prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather may hurt the airways and make someone more susceptible to getting sick.

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Seth Borenstein can be followed at http://twitter.com/borenbears

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