AccuWeather's Memorial Day weekend outlook

Often referred to as the "unofficial start to summer," Memorial Day weekend is quickly approaching. With AAA reporting that 2024 will be the second highest travel forecast since 2000, millions of Americans will travel to picnics and family get-togethers, open the backyard pool, and engage in other warm-weather activities this weekend.

AccuWeather forecasters have been closely analyzing the weather pattern and say that while some parts of the country will feature periods of damp weather and storms, others are projected to have sweltering heat and dry conditions.

So far this month, May has featured warmer-than-typical conditions for many. Wet and rather stormy conditions persisted across the Plains and Southern states and parched conditions spread across the Southwest. To finish out the month, an active storm pattern is on track to continue as temperatures continue to rise to summerlike levels.

AAA predicts that nearly 44 million travelers will travel 50 miles or more away from home this year over the Memorial Day holiday period, which is a 4% uptick from 2023. This projection would exceed pre-pandemic levels, signaling a very busy summer travel season ahead

Overall travel times can be higher than typical years for both roadway and airline travelers, and experts are advising travelers to plan accordingly to avoid congestion and delays.

By this weekend, there can be multiple weather features to watch that can bring showers and disruptive thunderstorms across the Central and Eastern states, AccuWeather meteorologists say.

"Storm-fatigued residents across the middle of the nation will not catch a break during the extended holiday weekend. While each day will not be a washout everywhere, and some locations will be fortunate enough to miss thunderstorm activity Saturday through Monday, there will be areas that get doused on more than one occasion across the Plains states," detailed AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Renee Duff.

"The thunderstorms can put down heavy rain, which causes difficult travel and even localized flooding, and incidents of hail and strong winds cannot be ruled out. AccuWeather's exclusive MinuteCast® tool can be utilized by those with outdoor plans to help determine when rain will arrive at their exact location -- however, be mindful that thunderstorms can blossom with little to no notice, and as soon as you see dark, billowing clouds or hear a rumble of thunder, seek shelter indoors," added Duff.


Those celebrating outdoors at picnics or beaches should be especially mindful of the thunderstorm forecast in their area over the holiday weekend. If thunder is heard, the safest thing to do is to take cover inside until at least 30 minutes have passed from the last lightning strike or boom of thunder.

Showers and thunderstorms will be possible from the upper Mississippi Valley throughout the weekend, even dampening locations across the Great Lakes. However, the active pattern will gradually shift to cover the Northeast and portions of the Southeast by Monday.

"The stormy weather will tend to travel along a boundary draped along the East Coast. This can result in showers and thunderstorms disrupting outdoor cookouts and memorial services in Boston, Raleigh and even Washington, D.C.," Duff said.

Temperatures across the mid-Atlantic states are projected to decline a few degrees by the weekend. Places like New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are expected to range from the 80s this week to the 70s by the holiday weekend.

After a warm, dry start to the week, much of the Northeast may welcome a wetter pattern and slightly cooler conditions.

Forecasters continue to spotlight the elevated temperatures on the way for the Southern states. Locations from the Desert Southwest to the Gulf Coast states are on track to see an uptick in heat over the Memorial Day weekend.

High temperatures can soar into the 90s Fahrenheit for Texas cities like Dallas and Houston but rise even higher across the southwest portion of the Lone Star state.

"Cold, hydrating beverages will be needed for anyone spending an extended time outdoors across much of the southern tier of the country. Triple-digit heat will be felt in southwestern Texas, with records challenged in some locales. Even where temperatures remain in the 90s, high humidity levels will push AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures near or past the 100-degree mark," explained Duff.

Humidity levels along the Gulf Coast can become downright uncomfortable. Dew points can exceed the lower to middle 70s F while paired with temperatures above the historical average for late May.

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