Reinhart Carl "Art" Schmidt, 95, a meteorologist who long headed the U.S. Weather Bureau's Washington office and was known for his authoritative Inauguration Day forecasts, died Jan. 8 at Northern Virginia Community Hospital after a heart attack. He lived in Falls Church.
Mr. Schmidt spent 46 years at the old Weather Bureau, moved to the Washington area in the mid-1940s to take charge of the Washington office and retired from that position in 1969.
According to a 1961 Washington Post article, he never was wrong about his Inauguration Day weather predictions. He correctly forecasted a snowy inauguration for President John F. Kennedy -- even as worries grew about whether a low-pressure area in the Midwest would make it east in time for the big event.
The job could be tense at times, with officials constantly calling to ask for the latest information. He said several politicians jokingly (sort of) told him over the years that the bureau's budget depended on his Inauguration Day accuracy.
"I should have quit after my inauguration forecast in 1957," he said. "That was rain ending in the morning and returning at night. Everybody said I was nuts, but my rain began at 1:50 a.m. and ended at 9:42 a.m. and came back again after the parade. Next day, everybody said I was great."
Mr. Schmidt was a native of Green Bay, Wis., and a meteorology graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. He began working for the Weather Bureau shortly after high school, and worked in offices across the Midwest.
When he was in St. Louis in 1929, he did weather forecasting for endurance flyers Forest O'Brine and Dale Jackson, who spent a then-record 420 hours flying above the city in their monoplane, the St. Louis Robin. The plane was constantly refueled from other planes.
Upon Mr. Schmidt's retirement, The Washington Post wryly noted many of the technological advances made in forecasting during his lifetime. As a teenager, he had hand-launched balloons to gather weather information that Tiro satellites were doing from space in the 1960s.
And, the paper noted, "The anemometer has replaced the moistened finger as a means of determining which way the wind is blowing."
He was a recipient of the Commerce Department Gold Medal.
His memberships included St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Falls Church.
He enjoyed fly-fishing and golf.
His wife of 72 years, Marie Bremer Schmidt, died in June 2002.
Survivors include three children, Robert Schmidt of Blacksburg, Va., Marilyn Waters of Upper Marlboro and Douglas Schmidt of Springfield; eight grandchildren; and 13 great-grandchildren.