Howling winds could top 35 mph during Biden's inauguration

As Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in Wednesday, a biting wind will whip across the National Mall.

The winds, which could gust to 30 to 40 mph, will come in the wake of a strong cold front sweeping through the Mid-Atlantic Tuesday night.

The combination of these gusts and temperatures only around 40 degrees will produce subfreezing wind chills when Biden becomes the 46th president and Harris the 49th vice president.

A few snow flurries can't even be ruled out amid the turbulent breezes and partly to mostly cloudy skies. Cloud cover, most prevalent in the morning and midday hours, should decrease as the afternoon wears on.

Wind gusts could be strong enough to loft loose objects into the air. About 200,000 flags have been placed on the National Mall in honor of the people unable to attend the ceremony amid the coronavirus pandemic and security threats. It's not clear how secure they are and whether they could be blown down or lifted into the air.

Generally, though, the winds should remain just below levels typically considered hazardous and capable of damage and power outages.

Considering the cold and wind, visitors attending the swearing-in, set for noon, should dress in layers and wear warm hats, gloves and thick socks. While it won't be as bitter as Barack Obama's first presidential inauguration on Jan. 20, 2009, when the noon temperature was 28 degrees and wind chills hovered in the teens, it will be one of the coldest days so far this month, especially factoring in the wind.

The projected noon temperature of 40 degrees is very close to the long-term average for January inaugurations. But the projected wind gusts of 30 to 40 could be the strongest since President Ronald Reagan's second inauguration which was so cold and windy that the ceremony was moved inside. At noon on Jan. 20, 1985, the temperature was 9 degrees with winds gusting to 35 mph. The wind chill was a frigid minus-11.

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