How is the weather shaping up for Independence Day fireworks displays?
The Fourth of July is not only known for its fireworks celebrating America's birthday. It's also known for some extreme weather that has disrupted festivities.
As the United States prepares to celebrate its 244th birthday, this year's time-honored festivities, like barbecues, lawn games and fireworks, may look and feel a little different than usual for many. Amid a pandemic and social distancing concerns, smaller groups and fewer parties may mean more eyes from home will be looking toward the skies -- or the flatscreen TVs -- to see the annual firework displays. However, not every area of the country will enjoy an equally great view of the spectacular pyrotechnics shows.
In New York City, the Independence Day celebration has been turned into a week-long affair with fireworks starting to light up the sky on Monday night and running through July Fourth on Saturday. In South Dakota, a firework display was launched over Mt. Rushmore for the first time since 2009, and President Donald Trump was in attendance.
Annual shows in some major cities, like Washington, D.C., are still on, but the weather in other cities, such as Denver and Santa Fe, New Mexico, has forced planned events to be canceled. Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic has forced many other cities to shutter celebrations as well.
For those cities still putting on events, read on to see how the weather and conditions may affect the celebration:
New York City and Northeast
In this Friday, June 19, 2020 photo, fireworks explode during Juneteenth celebrations above the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The Manhattan skyline is seen in the background. They light up the sky in celebration, best known in the U.S. as a way to highlight Independence Day. This year, fireworks aren't being saved for special events. They've become a nightly nuisance from Connecticut to California, angering sleep-deprived citizens and alarming local officials. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)
Some places in the Northeast, like Boston, have canceled annual shows weeks ago because of the pandemic, but New York City went in the opposite direction and ramped up its celebrations to make this year's Fourth of July a weeklong event that aims to discourage people from congregating on one specific night.
After daily showers and thunderstorms for much of the week, any festivities have the potential for interruptions this weekend as well.
AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dean Devore stated: "Some models think it could be pretty nice this holiday weekend," referring to computer weather models meteorologists look at when formulating a forecast, but that "there are other models that there may be some chances of thunderstorms popping up in the afternoons and evenings. We'll have to wait to see how it plays out."
Devore said more stormy concerns could arrive from a system moving through the Great Lakes.
"There's a system that will come through the Great Lakes and bring just general thunderstorm and shower chances into the weekend," Devore said. "The concern is towards the weekend: Is enough of the system going to stamp itself out towards the Eastern Seaboard? We could get, in addition to daily thunderstorm chances, an enhancement of even more than that."
Fireworks explode near the White House in Washington Saturday, July 4, 2009.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The annual fireworks extravaganza in the nation's capital famously draws large crowds and is one of the premiere fireworks shows in the country. While the crowds won't be as dense this year, the weather may make for a tough year for the spectators that do attend. AccuWeather RealFeel Temperatures in D.C. will near the triple digits during the day and cool off only to the middle 80s during the evening hours.
"D.C. will be one of those battlezones as we head into the weekend," Devore said. "There's a slight chance there may be some showers and thunderstorms in the area."
In the Southwest, particularly in states that have already seen heightened wildfire risks, many locations are canceling fireworks plans due to drought conditions.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham issued an executive order earlier this week urging New Mexico cities and counties to ban the retail sale of fireworks due to drought as the state face high risks of wildfires. According to The Santa Fe New Mexican, the Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Forest Service and National Park Service also have bans.
Farther north in Colorado, most communities around Denver have also canceled fireworks shows due to a mix of coronavirus and wildfire risk concerns.
Keep an eye on the forecast
Throughout the nation, Devore said residents should keep an updated eye on the forecasts as holiday plans may need to be shifted around with Mother Nature's plans. Android users and iPhone users can do that easily by using the free AccuWeather app, which offers minute-by-minute forecasts and fast delivery of severe weather alerts.
"As your weekend plans evolve including fireworks or a trip to the beach, this will be one of those patterns where you'll need to continue checking in because the amount and frequency of thunderstorms can change by day and even times of the day," Devore said. "There may be some days where it'll be really nice in the morning and then get not so nice by the afternoon, or vice versa. So those are the kinds of things that people should keep checking back with us for as we get towards the end of the week."
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