Where Memorial Day plans will be upended by rain, storms

A wide variety of conditions will be found across the United States on Memorial Day ranging from sunshine for outdoor activities to frequent rounds of downpours and thunderstorms that can be potentially dangerous, AccuWeather meteorologists say.

Best bets for the beach on Memorial Day will be from Georgia and Florida to Texas as well as in Southern California. Building heat and humidity along the Interstate 10 and 20 corridors of the South Central and Southeast states will make keeping cool a necessity, and the best way to do that aside from air conditioning will be at the beach or the pool.

As actual temperatures climb well into the 90s F in many areas, AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures will soar well past 100 degrees. The AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperature takes into account many more parameters than the heat index and is a more accurate representation of how it truly feels.

Ocean water temperatures along the southern Atlantic coast range from the mid-70s F in the Carolinas to the mid-80s in southern Florida. Gulf of Mexico water temperatures are generally in the mid-80s. Keep in mind that water temperatures along the California coast are dangerously chilly, in the low 60s.

For those in the Northeast, surf temperatures are frigid from New Jersey to the north.

Memorial Day will offer generally safe camping and hiking weather over the West. Unlike the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays when midday and afternoon thunderstorms bring threats of lightning strikes, few, if any, thunderstorms are in the offing this weekend.

Aside from an afternoon thunderstorm in spots over the Sierra Nevada, much of the West will remain dry.

Those considering kayaking or rafting in the West should be aware that rivers are running fast, deep and cold this time of year. Water temperatures are icy, as most streams are fed by melting snow from the high country. Cold water shock can be dangerous and deadly.

Aside from the high country of the West, Northeast and the immediate coastal areas of the Northwest and New England, conditions that will likely require occasional use of a jacket or long sleeves will be over the Upper Midwest. For example, around Bemidji, Minnesota, temperatures will only reach the upper 50s on Memorial Day.


This region and its nearly 30,000 natural lakes are a magnet for fishing and water sports. The region seeks to recoup losses from a nearly ice-free and snowless winter.

A storm will also bring showers and thunderstorms to parts of the Upper Midwest on Monday. Small hail and gusty winds may accompany any thunderstorm, most likely across portions of Iowa, Wisconsin and southern Minnesota.

While lightning poses one of the greatest dangers from common thunderstorms for those spending outdoors enjoying everyday activities, AccuWeather meteorologists anticipate that more severe weather, including the potential for some tornadoes, will progress into much of the Atlantic coast during Memorial Day.

Thunderstorms will not only threaten outdoor events such as weddings, barbeques and camping trips, but they can be dangerous along the East Coast.

AccuWeather meteorologists have designated an area with a moderate risk of severe thunderstorms on Monday. While some risk (yellow) areas show the likelihood of severe thunderstorms in parts of the area, a moderate (orange) risk zone indicates that numerous severe thunderstorms are likely in the region.

A severe thunderstorm can potentially bring damaging wind gusts, hail and torrential downpours. All three conditions can occur separately or simultaneously. When heavy rain accompanies high winds, it may seem like a hurricane is hitting, with trees bending and breaking in some cases and streets turning into rivers. These conditions can occur with individual, small-scale thunderstorms, a line of thunderstorms or large, long-tracking complexes of thunderstorms.

As the storm system responsible for severe thunderstorms this past weekend progresses, parts of the Northeast will be subject to drenching downpours on Memorial Day. The greatest threat of storms turning violent with high winds and possible tornadoes will be along a portion of the mid-Atlantic coast.

Even in the stormiest locations, there will be opportunities to spend time outdoors thanks to many hours of daylight. Check the latest AccuWeather forecast and app, which has hourly information, radar and weather alerts. Be sure to use sunscreen, as even in cool conditions, the sun's rays are intense in late May with the summer solstice less than 30 days away.

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