Joe Lundberg

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Active Weather Heading Into the Memorial Day Weekend

May 22, 2014; 11:12 AM ET

Thursday, noon

This has been a very busy week for me, and that has included keeping abreast of the weather even when I was away yesterday. It began on Sunday with the Lake Raystown Half Ironman, that I successfully completed! The water was cool, about 65 degrees, and I admit that I didn't properly acclimate myself to the water by sticking my face in it before the swim, so that caused me to panic some and slow my push through the water. That in combination with getting off course a couple of times made me the next-to-last swimmer out of the water. But the bike course, while very hilly in places, went well, and I was able to complete the run with no physical pain, just some internal 'discomfort,' shall we say. Next up is a half marathon hosted by Skirt Sports in Boulder, Colorado, on June 1, the National 24-hour (bike) challenge in Middleville, Michigan, on June 14-15, and then a full Ironman on Aug. 24 at Challenge Penticton in Penticton, British Columbia. So far, so good! Let's see how the next three months unfold!

Yesterday I took the day to participate in a Career Fair at the Loyalsock Middle School in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. I was one of many professionals who talked to 8th graders about their chosen profession. I was able to demonstrate a tornado machine, and all went well. The problem, if any, was the heavy rain and vivid lightning on my journey to the school. As it turned out, I was driving away from the heaviest of the rain that triggered some flooding from parts of Centre County all the way up to Ridgway and beyond. And those thunderstorms helped to cool the atmosphere sufficiently to keep high temperatures nearly 10 degrees below forecast highs, as most of the affected areas of central Pennsylvania barely got past 60 with clouds and the rain and thunderstorms on the cold side of a warm front.

Today, however, is completely different from yesterday. That warm front is almost to the Delaware Water Gap, and with the sun now out in most of the state, and the west to southwest winds kicking in, temperatures are jumping through the 70s. The trailing cold front is now working into northwestern Pennsylvania and extends down to the Ohio River. Look at the 11 a.m. surface pressure analysis:

In between the warm front and the cold front, the air mass is warm and humid, and highs will get well into the 70s and lower 80s, high enough to spark a few gusty thunderstorms from southern and central Pennsylvania on east into New Jersey, as well as down into Maryland, Delaware and parts of northern Virginia. In contrast, the warm air will never get into most of New England and eastern New York state, with temperatures mainly stuck in the 60s with cloudy skies and some rain and thunderstorms.

While this relatively weak storm rolls through the Northeast this afternoon and evening, dragging the cold front through, the weather has been violent elsewhere. The severe weather reports from Wednesday night was largely centered on the Ohio Valley and environs:

With the cold front pushing south into Kentucky, the threat of severe weather is over in the Ohio Valley, and the risk may be more down toward Tennessee. There is also a concern for more strong thunderstorms in the eastern Rockies, where hail did quite a bit of damage in and around the Denver metropolitan area Wednesday afternoon and evening. There were even a few tornadoes. Hopefully that won't be the case this afternoon and evening, but severe thunderstorms are probable around the eastern side of the large upper-level low spinning around southern California and Arizona. Here's what that looks like from the perspective of the 12z May 22 NAM model 500mb forecast for this evening:

This upper-level low isn't going to move very quickly, so the eastern side of it will continue to be the focal point for mostly afternoon and evening showers and thunderstorms - not just this afternoon, but into the start of the holiday weekend. In fact, even by Sunday evening, this upper-level low is only going to be over Colorado and New Mexico:

What's not necessarily seen between those two images is the upper-level trough that is embedded in the main jet stream flow that rolls by the Northwest through British Columbia tomorrow and tomorrow night, then out across Alberta into Saskatchewan Saturday and Saturday night. As that happens, it will pull a relatively weak cold front through the Northwest and across the northern Rockies, reaching the northern Plains Sunday. Some showers and thunderstorms will accompany the front, followed by drier and somewhat cooler air for a day.

That covers most of the active weather into the Memorial Day weekend. As we finish it up on Monday, the combination of this cold front crossing the Midwest into the Great Lakes and the upper-level low drifting out into the Plains means a stormy, or at least unsettled, finish to the holiday weekend from the central and southern Plains to parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes. Most of the East will be dry and warm, though scattered thunderstorms will erupt in the rather hot and humid air over the Southeast into Florida.

The good news for the Southwest over the weekend is that once the upper-level low gets out of the way, there will be a lot of sunshine for Sunday and Monday.

The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or


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About This Blog

Joe Lundberg
Joe Lundberg, a veteran forecaster and meteorologist, covers both short and long-term U.S. weather on this blog.