WASHINGTON -- It will be the first up or down fact check of a Barack Obama campaign pledge for his second term: Promised warmer Inauguration Day weather. Will he – or Mother Nature – deliver?

It's looking like an uncomfortably close call – the emphasis on the word uncomfortable for people who will be outside on what's predicted to be a downright chilly day.

In September, 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 when the noontime temperature was an unseasonable chilly 28 degrees. Obama promised: "This one is going to be warmer."

Scientifically, the president doesn't have control of day-to-day weather. While his policies can lessen or worsen future projected global warming on a large scale, they cannot do anything about Washington's daily temperature on Jan. 21.

Still, it's a promise that for a long time looked close to a sure thing. The history of local weather was on Obama's side. On average, the normal high is 43 degrees and the normal low is 28 but that's just around dawn. There have been 19 traditional January inaugurations and only two were colder: Ronald Reagan's second in 1985 was a frigid 7 with subzero wind chills and John F. Kennedy's in 1961 was a snowy 22. Jimmy Carter's 1977 inauguration also was 28.

And then there was the general warming trend Washington had been stuck in. The last time the nation's capital stayed below freezing all day was Jan. 22, 2011. The city has gone a record more than 700 days since it had two or more inches of snow.

So a dozen days before Inauguration Day, when asked if it this inauguration would be warmer than in 2009, Mike Halpert, deputy director of the federal Climate Prediction Center said: "Sure, that would be something I'd bet on. Now looking at the (long-range computer forecast) models, I'd definitely bet on it. It's very very likely be warmer than it was four years ago."

That was more than a week ago. The forecast changed. An Arctic cold front looks to be racing toward the mid-Atlantic, so it will be cooler than normal, but probably not cooler than 2009, said Christopher Strong, warning coordination meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Sterling, Va., that oversees forecasts for the capital area.

Look for highs that day in the upper 30s with noon temperatures in the "middle 30s," Strong said. That would keep Obama's pledge.

"That's certainly below normal," Strong said. "It's not as cold as it can be."

The weather would be closer to normal for Cleveland rather than Washington, Strong said. And there's a 30 percent chance of light snow showers.

But that Arctic front could move in faster than expected with even cooler temperatures, Strong said. So he put the chance of the noon temperature being colder than 2009's 28 degrees at 20 percent.

Jeff Masters, meteorology director of the private service Weather Underground, said he thinks there's a 30 percent chance that Obama's promise won't be kept.

Another factor is that earlier this month cold air suddenly appeared in the uppermost atmosphere and that often means considerably colder weather for America's East coast for several weeks and it appears to be starting, said Climate Prediction Center forecaster Anthony Artusa.

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 from 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.

And there's one thing Washington's history shows. Bad weather generally creates bad traffic jams. John F. Kennedy found that out in his 1961 inauguration when 8 inches of snow fell overnight and crippled the city for what at that time was Washington's worst traffic jam. Thousands of cars were abandoned in the snow.

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  • Kelly Clarkson

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  • James Taylor

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  • Queen Latifah

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  • Katy Perry

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  • Smokey Robinson

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  • Brad Paisley

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  • Usher

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  • Alan Cumming

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  • Alfre Woodard

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  • Kirsten Dunst

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  • John Legend

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  • Cyndi Lauper

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  • Russell Simmons

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  • Alicia Keys

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  • Marc Anthony

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  • "Glee" Cast

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  • Chris Tucker

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  • Ashley Greene

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  • Tatyana Ali

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  • Malin Akerman

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  • Far East Movement

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  • Connie Britton

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  • Mindless Behavior

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  • Eric Stonestreet

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  • fun.

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  • Soul Children of Chicago

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  • Will Swenson, Audra McDonald

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  • Frenchie Davis

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  • Ross Mathews

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  • Omar Epps

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  • Moby

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  • Giancarlo Esposito

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  • Sophia Bush

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  • Lynn Whitfield

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  • Jonathan Del Arco

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  • Star Jones

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  • Sandra Fluke

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  • Al Sharpton

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  • Jurnee Smollett

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  • Swizz Beatz

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  • Kate Walsh

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  • Wayne Brady

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  • Allison Williams

    Allison Williams is scheduled to appear at the <a href="http://www.hrc.org/inauguration#.UPRcjonjmoo">Artists Making An Impact Cocktail Reception & Buffet Dinnern</a> at Oya. This photo was taken at the 70th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Sunday Jan. 13, 2013, in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/AP)

Loading Slideshow...
  • Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

    The Capitol during the inauguration of Theodore Roosevelt in 1905.

  • Ronald Reagan, 1981

    Ronald Reagan and wife Nancy Reagan wave to the public from the presidential car during the January 20, 1981, Inauguration Day parade.

  • James K. Polk, 1845

    This wood engraving depicts the crowd with umbrellas in front of platform on east portico of the Capitol, where Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administers the oath of office to James K. Polk.

  • Ulysses S. Grant, 1873

    This wood engraving shows Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase holding Bible with hand raised, and Ulysses S. Grant with hand on Bible, surrounded by crowd of men.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1940

    President Franklin Roosevelt began his eighth year in the White House on March 4, 1940. The president attended services at St. John's Episcopal Church before the ceremony. Congressional leaders, cabinet members and others joined the president at prayer services, including Secretary of War Harry Woodring and Mrs. Woodring, pictured here, as they attended enter the church.

  • Jimmy Carter, 1977

    A peanut-shaped float passes by presidential reviewing stand for the inauguration of Jimmy Carter on Jan. 20, 1977.

  • Theodore Roosevelt, 1905

    President Theodore Roosevelt in his carriage on the way to the White House from the Capitol.

  • Abraham Lincoln, 1861

    The inauguration of Abraham Lincoln at the Capitol on March 4, 1861.

  • William McKinley, 1901

    This photos shows the crowd standing in front of the Capitol with William McKinley standing on the podium in the middle.

  • George H. W. Bush, 1989

    Soldiers march in the parade that followed the inauguration of President George H.W. Bush on Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, 1989.

  • Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 1945

    Dr. Wei Tao-Ming, of China, and other guests at the ceremony of the fourth inauguration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the South Portico of the White House.

  • William Howard Taft, 1909

    Photographers at President Taft's inauguration, March 4, 1909, above a snow-covered wall.

  • James Buchanan, 1857

    A wood engraving from Frank Leslie's illustrated newspaper depicts the inauguration process for James Buchanan in 1857.

  • John F. Kennedy, 1961

    This photograph depicts the presidential reviewing stand as the Mummers band passes during John F. Kennedy's inauguration.

  • Jimmy Carter, 1977

    President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter dancing at an inaugural ball on Jan. 20, 1977.

  • George W. Bush, 2005

    US Navy Master Chief Petty Officer Terry Scott shakes hands with one of the hundreds of Navy sailors who helped line the street cordon down Pennsylvania Avenue for the Inauguration day parade,

  • Richard Nixon, 1969

    Richard Nixon and Pat Nixon arrive at an inaugural ball in 1969.

  • Harry Truman, 1949

    This photo shows the inauguration podium at the Capitol for the swearing-in ceremony of Harry Truman on Jan. 20, 1949.

  • George W. Bush, 2001

    Fireworks explode over the White House on the eve of George W. Bush's inauguration in 2001.

  • Ronald Reagan, 1981

    The inaugural procession travels toward the White House on Pennsylvania Avenue near 11th Street NW on Jan. 20, 1981.