By Allison Chinchar, CNN Meteorologist
Labor Day weekend is usually the final goodbye to summer, but for roughly a third of the country, temperatures could reach record levels this holiday weekend.
“September is kicking off with scorching temperatures throughout the western US, as highs are once again anticipated to threaten daily and even monthly records headed into Labor Day Weekend,” the Weather Prediction Center said.
From California to Wisconsin, Labor Day temperatures will be 10 to 30 degrees above normal.
For the Gulf Coast region, flooding may wreak havoc on any outdoor holiday plans as a stationary front continues to pester an area that does not need more rain.
“A Slight Risk of Excessive Rainfall has been issued for Saturday over western Kentucky and Tennessee, as well as a large area from the central Gulf Coast to the Edwards Plateau of Texas,” the WPC said.
And those in the Midwest hoping to seek relief from the heat along the Great Lakes will need to watch out for hazardous swimming conditions due to high waves.
But if you’re looking for a nice, mild, sunny day this weekend, we do have a few places in mind.
Record heat for the West
Over 40 million people are under extreme heat alerts in the West through the holiday weekend. This prolonged heat wave will impact the 20 most populous cities on the West Coast, including even coastal locations like San Francisco that often escape the intense heat.
“Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories currently include much of California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Idaho, where these dangerously hot temperatures are likely to increase the threat of heat-related illnesses,” the Weather Prediction Center cautioned in its forecast discussion.
Over 200 locations could break record temperatures through Monday.
Even a state as far north as Montana will see high temperatures flirting with triple digits — which equates to 20 to 30 degrees above average.
Duration is also important, as is the time of year that the heat is occurring.
“This will be the longest and most intense heat streak so far this calendar year,” Alexis Clouser from the National Weather Service in San Francisco told CNN. Temperatures will reach 15-20 degrees F above normal each day, with the hottest day likely to be Labor Day.
Another big concern with this heat is that it comes at the end of the summer season, even though people may think they’d be acclimated by then.
“Actually, coroner’s reports show that there are more heat-related deaths and illnesses at the end of the summer than any other part, because your body is exhausted from fighting extreme heat all summer,” said Jenn Varian, a meteorologist for the NWS office in Las Vegas.
Flooding for the Southern US
If you live along the Gulf Coast, however, you may want to keep that umbrella nearby this weekend. A stationary front that stretches from Texas to South Carolina will bring rain chances for Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Pensacola, and Savannah.
The concern for flooding is highest for an area from Laredo and Brownsville in Texas, eastward through New Orleans where 2-4 inches of rain is expected this weekend.
The southeastern coastline of the Atlantic Ocean isn’t much better. From Miami to Jacksonville in Florida and up through Savannah and Charleston, South Carolina, the chance of rain is also forecast for all three days of the holiday weekend.
Even inland cities such as Atlanta, Memphis, and Little Rock, Arkansas, have high chances of rain all three days this weekend.
The US Drought Monitor rainfall records show that in just the past two weeks many locations in the southern region ranked among the top 10 wettest for this time of year. This is impressive given that some of those records go back over 100 years.
“Meanwhile, a surge of monsoonal moisture (aided in part by Tropical Storm Javier over the eastern Pacific) may lead to isolated downpours capable of producing flash floods over parts of southern Arizona today and a much broader section of the Southwest on Saturday,” the WPC said.
Where the mild things are
If you’re looking for more fall-like temperatures, look no further than Chicago, Detroit, or Buffalo, New York. Afternoon high temperatures may start off warm this weekend, but they will drop 10 degrees by Labor Day Monday, leading to very pleasant numbers for the start of fall. Both Chicago and Buffalo have high temperatures in the low to mid 80s Saturday, with the chance of rain on both Saturday and Sunday. By Monday, the threat of rain disappears and high temperatures drop to the mid 70s.
While the retreat of the cold front will bring about cooler temperatures, it will bring a new danger for those wanting to cool off by the water.
“Dangerous swimming conditions develop Saturday afternoon and persist through Sunday morning at Lake Michigan beaches due to gusty north-northeast winds behind cold front,” the NWS office in Chicago warned in their forecast discussion. “While waves may diminish some into Sunday, swimming conditions will remain hazardous through much of the holiday weekend. Stay dry when the waves are high!”
If you are looking for dry conditions in the Northeast, the better chance will be Saturday, but it will also be hot. Philadelphia and Baltimore will have temperatures near 90 degrees Saturday, but drop back into the low 80s by Monday as high-end rain chances return. Similar situation for New York City and Boston which will have dry skies and high temperatures near 80 degrees Saturday, but cool down as rain chances tick up Monday.
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