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Latest Memorial Day weekend forecast not looking promising in Northeast

AccuWeather logo AccuWeather 5/24/2022 Alex Sosnowski

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An unsettled and at times stormy Memorial Day weekend is forecast for the Northeast, AccuWeather meteorologists say. However, unlike in 2021, when the unofficial start to the summer season was marred by cold weather and persistent rain, this weekend will turn out warmer and it won't be a complete washout.

The disruptive weather could throw a wrench into plans for many Americans looking to hightail it away from home after two years of coronavirus-related lockdowns and restrictions. Nationwide, more than 39 million Americans will travel more than 50 miles from home this holiday weekend, according to the auto club and insurance company AAA.

"Based on our projections, summer travel isn't just heating up, it will be on fire, Paula Twidale, senior vice president of AAA Travel said. "People are overdue for a vacation, and they are looking to catch up on some much-needed R&R in the coming months."

The weather forecast in the Northeast has taken a downturn in recent days, thanks to a slow-moving storm that won't be in a hurry to leave. The same storm system and an associated wrinkle in the jet stream that were responsible for torrential downpours, severe thunderstorms and tornadoes over the south-central United States Monday and Tuesday will crawl northeastward later this week. The storm could unload up to a foot of rain and trigger flash flooding in parts of the south-central region into Wednesday evening.

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Showers and thunderstorms will begin from west to east across the Northeast Friday and continue into the weekend from the central Appalachians to the Atlantic coast, forecasters say.

Even though it is unlikely to rain the entire time anywhere in the region from Friday evening through Sunday, embedded within the showers will be localized torrential downpours and pockets of robust thunderstorms. A few areas could be saddled with brief flooding issues and/or damaging wind gusts and frequent lightning strikes.

Based on the latest AccuWeather forecasts, people with weekend getaways in mind that involve a great deal of outdoor activity should be prepared for less-than-ideal conditions and have raingear on hand. A general 0.25 to 1 inch of rain is forecast to fall with locally higher amounts spread mainly over the first two-thirds of the long weekend.

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There is some hope the storm will move along just enough to salvage Memorial Day itself.

AccuWeather Meteorologist Dean DeVore said that there is a better chance for drier weather as the holiday weekend progresses and particularly in areas farther south such as around the nation's capital.

The weather around Washington, D.C., for Memorial Day services is looking dry at this point with at least partial sunshine and temperatures reaching the mid-80s.

There is a chance the weather may improve enough to view the sunset and the first round of Manhattanhenge in New York City Sunday and Monday evenings. Manhattanhenge occurs twice in May and twice again in July when the setting sun aligns with the eastward and westward roads of the borough's grid.

Manhattanhenge from 42nd Street - Getty Images © Provided by AccuWeather Manhattanhenge from 42nd Street - Getty Images
A view of the Manhattanhenge sunset from 42nd Street in New York City. (Photo/Josh Namdar/Getty Images)

The best bet for New Yorkers to witness this phenomenon may be Monday when clouds that could spoil the sunset are less likely to be present.

However, farther to the northeast, around Boston, the weather may be unsettled Monday.

"While not a total washout, there are still concerns that shower and thunderstorm chances linger even into Memorial Day the farther north you go into New England this holiday weekend," DeVore said. The best bet for outdoor plans in Boston this weekend might be on Friday evening and the first part of Saturday.

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Despite the potentially disruptive and in some cases disappointing weather, it will still be a far cry from the record cold and wet conditions that occurred on the holiday weekend in the region last year.

"Saturday and Sunday during the Memorial Day weekend from 2021 were flat out cold and rainy," AccuWeather Meteorologist Randy Adkins said. "Temperatures were no higher than the 40s over much of the central Appalachians while highs were mainly in the 50s F along the mid-Atlantic coast."

Memorial Day weekend 2021 kicked off with accumulating snow over the mountains of the northern tier with snowflakes reported in some higher elevations of New England. Record low daytime high temperatures dating as far back as the 1800s were set in dozens of locations.

Nearly 2 inches of rain poured down on Boston, 1.37 inches was measured in New York City and close to an inch soaked Philadelphia. Eventually, the sun emerged and temperatures climbed in much of the Northeast on Memorial Day itself, but temperatures still stopped short of average by 5-10 degrees.

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Average highs during the last weekend in May range from the upper 60s in northern Maine to the lower 80s in southeastern Virginia.

High temperatures are forecast to range from the 60s to lower 70s over the mountains to the mid- to upper 70s along Interstate 95 Saturday. By Monday, with more sunshine in the forecast, highs are forecast to be mainly in the 80s over the central Appalachians and mid-Atlantic region with highs in the 70s in much of New England.

Compared to the depths of the chill from last Memorial Day weekend, temperatures this weekend will be some 20-30 degrees higher.

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