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The Kennedy Inaugural Snowstorm

| 11:19 am January 20, 2013

2013-01-17_14-28-11

On this date in 1961, the second of three major nor’easters that occurred during the winter of 1960-61 was moving up the East Coast. The center of low was located east of the Delmarva on the morning of January 20th. The pressure in the storm was down to 972 millibars as it rapidly intensified. The pressure would bottom out at 964 millibars.

That morning, seven inches of new fallen snow lay on the nation’s capital. Not a major news story in and of itself, and it certainly was one of the lower snow totals from the storm. But the story was in the fact that it was Inauguration Day for John F. Kennedy.

Weather forecasts had called for snow to change to rain before changing back to snow overnight. But the changeover to rain never occurred and only snow fell. Huge traffic jams ensued as vehicles had to be abandoned. The scene was a beautiful one the following morning, but a disaster for Inauguration planners.

Only a Herculean effort by Washington snow removal crews and the Army Corps of Engineers, with front end loaders, dump trucks, and even flamethrowers, was able to clear the streets for for the Parade and Ceremony.

At the time of the swearing in, it was 22F with a chill northwest wind averaging 19 mph.

The night before, a Aeronaves de México DC-8B crashed on takeoff from New York’s Idlewild Airport in blizzard conditions. 102 of the 106 people on board survived the fiery crash.

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Category: Weather History

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