Memorial Day forecast: What's in store for your area this weekend?
A weather system that has caused headaches in the U.S. will leave in time for the weekend, but another weather maker will “cause mischief” in one region.
Memorial Day marks the "unofficial start to summer" for millions of Americans and typically the opening of pools, beach season and many other warm-weather activities. Even though this year may look different with delayed openings in some areas during the pandemic, many will try to salvage the holiday weekend with a staycation or at least by firing up the grill in their backyards.
Spring has been a cool and wet one across the eastern United States, preventing people from escaping to the outdoors at times during the shelter-in-place orders. However, AccuWeather forecasters say conditions may let up just in time for the holiday weekend with temperatures expected to throttle to summery levels. Others may not be so lucky as a stormy pattern developing this week will persist straight into the weekend.
Sweltering in the Southeast
After a large storm stalls in the southeastern U.S. for a few days this week, unleashing flooding downpours on the southern Appalachians and Carolinas, fewer downpours are in store for the holiday weekend.
Temperatures in the 80s F will be widespread across the region through the weekend and for Memorial Day itself. Interior portions of Florida and southern Georgia and Alabama will climb into the 90s. The warmth expected this weekend will be closer to normal for the actual start of summer, on June 20, rather than late May.
Combined with sunshine and building humidity, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will soar well into the 90s across much of the Deep South, and can even surpass 100 in spots away from the coast.
"Those planning outdoor activities for the holiday weekend should be careful to protect against heat-related illness," cautioned AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck.
The steamy air will provide fuel for some downpours and thunderstorms to pop up over parts of the South and dampen holiday plans.
"Unfortunately, the stormiest day of the holiday weekend may be Memorial Day," according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski.
Downpours will be common over the Mississippi Valley and Plains in general during much of next week. The greatest risk of flooding from Monday to Thursday is likely fro the northwest Gulf coast to the Ozark Mountains and the lower Mississippi Valley.
Dry weather to dominate holiday weekend in the Northeast
While there will be a hiccup in the dry weather to start the holiday weekend, rain will be largely absent across the Northeast on Memorial Day.
"The slow-moving storm threatening North Carolina and Virginia with flooding is expected to crawl northward and spoil the start of the holiday weekend in the mid-Atlantic and southern New England with showers and thunderstorms," according to Pydynowski. "However, drier weather will dominate for Sunday and Memorial Day."
In terms of temperatures, warmer weather will dominate New England before the holiday. Warmth will gradually build through the rest of the week, with widespread high temperatures in the 70s in New York state and New England.
The warmth near the coast, however, is not expected to last into Memorial Day.
"Cooler air flowing in from the Atlantic Ocean will hold temperatures in the 60s, even the upper 50s, near the Northeast coast on Sunday and Memorial Day," according to Pydynowski. "Instead of umbrellas, residents will need to grab a jacket before heading outside."
"The warmest areas for the holiday weekend will be north and west of New England and the mid-Atlantic," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundberg. "Temperatures will be in the 70s and 80s across most areas from upstate New York through the Great Lakes and Midwest."
A security guards asks people to not swim while patrolling at Orchard Beach in the Bronx borough of New York, Sunday, May 17, 2020. Parks, boardwalks and beaches attracted some crowds this weekend, though city beaches aren't officially open and won't be for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
The warmth can set the stage for showers and thunderstorms to erupt over parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes.
"Keep an eye on the sky and be ready should you find yourself in the path of a thunderstorm," Lundberg warned to those in the Midwest and Great Lakes.
Severe thunderstorms to threaten the Plains
Storms contributing to a cooler and wetter pattern in portions of the West this week will start to shift eastward in the Plains during the second half of this week and into the holiday weekend.
After severe thunderstorms targeted portions of the northern and central Plains during the the middle of the week, storms could fire up on Saturday and Sunday again.
The greatest risk of severe weather on Saturday will be from southern North Dakota to southern Nebraska. Damaging winds and hail are the greatest concerns, but isolated tornadoes may also threaten residents. There will be a second area of storms possible farther south in parts of western Texas.
The muggy weather will fuel yet another day of widespread severe weather on Sunday.
"With a strong cold front moving into the warmth and humidity that will have built up across the Plains, there is the potential for widespread severe thunderstorms on Sunday from Iowa to western Texas," warned AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston.
"Damaging winds and hail look to be the main threats, but a few tornadoes can't be ruled out," Boston said.
Still, while residents in the Plains will have to look out and prepare to shelter from potentially damaging storms, there will be stretches of dry weather.
"There will still be plenty of dry time for people to get outside and enjoy some of their holiday weekend, with social distancing of course," Boston said.
After a cool start, warmth to build in the West
The stormy pattern affecting West so far this week will break down by this weekend, but it won't be an immediate change.
"It's going to be really cool and wet across most of the West through the end of this week. It will stay chilly in the Northwest, especially in Montana and Idaho, through Saturday. It is even going to snow in the mountains. Yellowstone will get snow on Saturday," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Dave Samuhel.
"However, by Memorial Day itself, it will turn warmer again across the Northwest, with mainly dry weather for Sunday and Monday as well."
The exception may be the Washington coast, where a storm tracking toward British Columbia could bring some rain on Memorial Day.
Farther south, the cooler weather will ease up sooner, and heat will begin to rebuild by the end of the weekend, then ramp up in earnest next week.
"In California, temperatures will start the weekend near normal then build to 5-10 degrees above normal by Memorial Day," Samuhel said.
Downtown Los Angeles could approach 90 degrees for the holiday, and temperatures in the Central Valley will near the 100-degree mark. Seasonable heat and sunshine will also be on tap across the Desert Southwest.
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