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Memorial Day weekend calls for triple digit temperatures and storms for some


By Jennifer Gray, CNN meteorologist

Leading up to the holiday weekend, there will be some dire weather hitting portions of the US, including more critical fire conditions and an abundance of tropical moisture; a sure sign summer is upon us.

To say it’s been a difficult few weeks for a large portion of the Southwest would be an understatement. Record heat, raging fires and an unforgiving drought have plagued the region.

Ripe fire conditions will once again make headlines this week from California to Texas, as more record-breaking temperatures will scorch the region.

A red-flag warning and heat advisories are in place across California’s Central Valley to begin the week. Temperatures will climb into the upper 90s and even triple digits by Tuesday and Wednesday where daily high temperature records could be set.

The heat, gusty winds and dry conditions will also aid in heightened fire conditions.

“Breezy northerly winds combined with low relative humidity values will result in critical fire weather conditions late Monday morning through Tuesday evening,” the National Weather Service (NWS) office in Sacramento projected.

The strongest winds are forecast on Tuesday, with sustained winds up to 25 mph and gusts to 35 mph.

And across the Southwest, “Critical fire weather returns to parts of the West this week with very hot and dry air combining with gusty winds,” said CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. “Thunderstorms with very little rainfall, but plenty of lightning, will also be possible over tinder dry ground in eastern New Mexico, southeastern Colorado and West Texas.”

Texas is one state desperately in need of relief. Nearly 30% of Texas is in exceptional drought, which is the highest number since 2012. It was at 0% drought at the beginning of the year.

Abilene has recorded 12 days in May with 100-degree temperatures or higher. It set a record for the highest number of days in May with 100-degree temperatures. The previous highest number of days for Abilene was 7 days, set in 1927 and matched in 2000.

Corpus Christi recorded the third driest February-May period to date in 136 years of records.

But luck could be changing for parts of Texas this week, at least for West Texas.

“Our best shot at widespread beneficial rainfall in some time arrives late this afternoon into tonight,” noted the National Weather Service (NWS) office in San Angelo. “Additionally, as is typical for our springtime rain events, this comes with a risk for severe thunderstorms.”

Rain is forecast for much of the South this week, in a big way.

“Rainfall totals of 3 inches and with localized pockets up to 6 inches Monday into Tuesday could lead to flash flooding, despite dry soils across the region,” said CNN meteorologist Haley Brink.

And more rain will be coming for the Memorial Day weekend.

Storm timeline

A cold front will crisscross the country as we get into the later part of the week, bringing showers and storms to a large part of the country just in time for the holiday weekend.

While a few things could change by the time the weekend comes, we have a pretty good idea of what it will hold.


This is the day we could see the most activity as far as storms are concerned. Warm air ahead of the front will signal some pop-up style showers and storms as well. As the front advances to the east, additional storms are possible.

The cold front will pass through the Plains and Upper Midwest on Saturday evening.

“Although there is large model spread concerning potential outcomes, some convective development appears possible Saturday evening into the overnight period,” according to the Storm Prediction Center (SPC).

Behind the cold front, pleasantly cool temperatures will dominate much of the midsection of the country for a brief period before temperatures soar quickly for Memorial Day.


If the timing of the front impacting the Plains and Midwest is accurate, then we should see some rain for the Ohio Valley on Sunday. “Thunderstorm development, with some potentially strong, will be possible along the front,” the SPC noted about Sunday’s threat.

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC) has highlighted much of the Plains and Midwest for above average rainfall for next weekend, but below for the East Coast. I still think we could get a shot of rain in the East, but again, it’s uncertain.

The front should be a little weaker by the time it makes it to the Northeast but could still bring a round of showers and possible storms.

One thing is for certain: Most will be sizzling like a rump roast on a hot bed of coals.

“A warm-up with above normal highs returning by the weekend across much of the Plains, with 90s likely as far north as central Nebraska, and even some low 100s for portions of western Texas,” the WPC emphasized. The West Coast could get a break, the WPC added, “A cooling trend will commence for the inland valleys of central California.”

The CPC is also highlighting the heat wave, with more than half the country expected to see above normal temperatures next weekend.

With temperatures in the 90s and triple digits, we can expect some pop-up style thunderstorms for areas, especially in the South for Memorial Day weekend.

And it might be a similar trend we will see during the next few months. Nearly the entire contiguous US is expected to have above-normal temperatures this summer, which runs from June through August, according to Thursday’s Climate Prediction Center outlook.

Memorial Day:

Forecast models are not in good agreement beyond Sunday, which is very typical when you are talking about something happening a full week away, but we will give you the best forecast we can at this point.

See if storms are expected in your city

The SPC mentions possible storms for the Plains once again, as well as the forecast uncertainty.

“On Monday, uncertainty is magnified due to large differences in the model solutions,” the SPC pointed out. “Although there will be potential for organized storms across the north-central US into the southern and central High Plains, uncertainty is too great to speculate on a specific scenario.”

The bottom line is to be on the lookout for showers and storms, especially across the midsection of the country. Check the forecast again, once Memorial Day gets closer, to be aware of changes to the forecast.

Check your 10-day forecast here

Stay weather aware, whatever your outdoor plans are. Have a plan to be able to get to a sturdy shelter if storms start to pop up, which can happen very quickly during the hot summer months.

How to protect yourself from lightning

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - Weather/Environment

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