Buehner: Will it rain (like always) during Memorial Day Weekend?

May 23, 2024, 9:43 AM

Memorial Day Weekend...

A ferry heading to the Kingston dock during sunset. (Photo courtesy of the City of Kingston)

(Photo courtesy of the City of Kingston)

The Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start to the summer season, is upon us. As travelers hit the road, what kind of weather is in store?

Does it always rain during Memorial Day Weekend?

We all tend to remember those soggy camping trips or when our outdoor activities took on extra water. So I looked at all the Memorial Day Weekends this century going back to 2001.

In the last 22 Memorial Day weekends, there have been 10 entirely dry holiday weekends and 13 that had at least some rain in the Puget Sound area. The wettest year? That was 2010 when it rained all three days with many places getting close to a total of a half inch of rain that holiday weekend.

In contrast, the 2017 Memorial Day weekend had temperatures climb well into the 80s under plenty of sunshine. Last year had a mix of clouds and sun with temperatures mainly in the 60s. The average high temperature during the last weekend of May is in the mid and upper 60s.

More weather: Washington weather will feel like a yo-yo this week before the holiday weekend

With the influence of the Pacific Ocean, Western Washington tends to be temperate in late May. The typical Memorial Day weekend often has morning clouds fading into clear skies in the afternoon. Those morning clouds just might squeeze out a little bit of rain. Half of those 22 years this century had such a weather pattern.

What does this Memorial Day weekend weather look like?

Since close to 85% of us are going away for the weekend and will travel more than 50 miles, let’s break it down to popular destinations.

The overall weather pattern offers another area of lower pressure aloft moving southeast from the Gulf of Alaska to bring scattered light showers to Western Washington Friday before tapering off Saturday as the parent system moves further inland. Higher pressure is then expected to slowly build over the region Sunday and Monday, bringing generally drier and warmer weather.

For the Puget Sound region, those light showers will likely begin Friday afternoon and come to an end Saturday. Highs on both days will generally be in the lower 60s. Sunday will offer an increasing amount of sunshine and, by Monday, highs will climb to approximately 70 degrees.

Heading north toward the Canadian border or any of the islands? Spotty light showers will develop Friday afternoon, but may linger into Sunday. Highs are expected to be in the 55- to 60-degree range before warming well into the 60s with more sunshine Monday.

For those traveling south toward Portland, much the same is expected with scattered showers developing later Friday and tapering off Saturday. Highs on both days will be around 60. Sunday should have morning clouds with the sun breaking out by afternoon and highs ranging from 60 to 65. Monday will have plenty of sunshine with highs cracking 70 degrees.

Heading to the coast? Those showers will develop earlier on Friday and also taper off Saturday, though the north coast and Olympics may have lingering showers into Sunday. Highs will be cool, ranging from 55 to 60 degrees. More sunshine is in store Monday with highs climbing well into the 60s.

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If plans take you into the Cascades, that area should be the wettest in the region. Showers will develop Friday afternoon and decrease Saturday into Sunday. Up to a quarter of an inch of rain is expected in places. Snow levels beginning Friday will be around 5,500 feet, dropping to 4,500 feet Sunday before bouncing back up to 7,000 feet Monday.

Many will be heading into Eastern Washington for more desirable sunshine and warmer temperatures. After Saturday, that will be the case. But on the first day of the three-day holiday weekend, the east side will have scattered showers and highs only in the 60s. By Sunday, the sun will return with a mix of clouds and highs rising to 65-75 degrees. On the holiday, more sunshine is anticipated with highs climbing into the 70s.

Wherever you go this holiday weekend, whether a staycation or elsewhere, have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Weekend. And on Memorial Day, remember those who paid the ultimate price for our country.

Ted Buehner is the KIRO Newsradio meteorologist. You can read more of Ted’s stories here and follow him on X.

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