Memorial Day Storm Threatens Southeast & Mid-Atlantic Regions
Storm System Threatens Southeast Coast over Memorial Day Weekend
An area of storminess developing off the Southeast coast could spread gusty winds, rain, and rough seas for coastal areas from Florida to Delaware between Thursday and Memorial Day. It could also mean wet weather at times for Raleigh, N.C.; Richmond; Washington and Baltimore.
The storm system is a poorly timed one for those with holiday weekend plans, but confidence remains low in the exact location and timing of the storm’s potential effects.
Forecast Uncertainty and Effects of the Storm
The forecast uncertainty, especially for rain, is highest north and west of the coast of the Carolinas, because models are having trouble figuring out how far northward the storm’s low-pressure zone will advance up the East Coast and how far inland the rain will extend.
As of now, the storm is not expected to become tropical, but the National Hurricane Center is monitoring it and did say in a forecast discussion that the storm could support locally strong winds, large swells and gale-force winds off the northeast Florida coast through Friday night. Some computer models indicate such conditions could shift north toward the coastal Carolinas over the weekend.
Depending on where the storm tracks, up to several inches of rain could fall in some locations — especially near the coast. Regardless of how much rain falls, persistent and potentially gusty onshore winds are likely to make for rough seas and could enhance the risk of rip currents.
Forecast by Region: South Carolina and Georgia
Friday and Saturday could feature strong winds from the northeast, generally parallel to the coast, with gusts near or past 50 mph. The wind should ease along the Georgia coastline after Saturday, but a gusty breeze could linger along the South Carolina coastline on Sunday before diminishing by Memorial Day. Showers and thunderstorms are possible each day, with the highest chance of significant rainfall near the coast. However, it’s also possible much of the rain remains to the east and northeast. Daytime highs are forecast in the upper 60s to upper 70s Friday and Saturday, and in the 80s Sunday and Memorial Day.
“The main forecast uncertainty revolves around the effects of the coastal low Friday night and Saturday. We could see some precipitation along the S.C. coast or it may stay just northeast of the area,” the National Weather Service in Charleston said in a forecast discussion.
Forecast by Region: North Carolina
Strong onshore winds could develop along the North Carolina coast on Friday and continue into Saturday, potentially gusting from the northeast near or past 50 mph. Lighter winds are expected Sunday and Monday. Periods of moderate to heavy rain are possible Friday and Saturday along the coast and inland. However, there are significant questions about how far inland. The Weather Service office serving the Raleigh area described forecast confidence as “very low” for Thursday through Sunday.
Rain chances should decrease by Sunday and Memorial Day. Daytime highs are forecast in the mid-60s to mid-70s Friday and Saturday and in the 70s to near 80 Sunday and Memorial Day. The Weather Service predicts “dangerous seas” building to 6 to 10 feet.
“This is a sensitive forecast where small deviations in the track of this coastal low will have major implications on the amount and extent of precip,” the National Weather Service in Wilmington, N.C., said in a forecast discussion.
Forecast by Region: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia
Forecast confidence is also very low for the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia coastlines because there is high uncertainty about how far north the storm will make it. Gusty winds could develop around Virginia Beach on Friday and spread as far north as the Delaware beaches by Saturday, with lighter winds expected Sunday and Memorial Day. Friday should be mostly dry, with periods of rain possible Saturday and Sunday and then lower rain chances on Memorial Day. Daytime highs are forecast in the mid-60s to mid-70s.
The low forecast confidence extends inland to the D.C. area, where there is some potential for rain, especially Sunday and Memorial Day, but also for drier weather if the coastal storm stays farther south.
Forecast by Region: Florida
The northern coastline, south of Cape Canaveral, could see gusty onshore winds Friday and Saturday. Winds from the north and northeast could gust near or past 40 mph. Occasional showers and thunderstorms are likely Friday into Saturday, but nothing too out of the ordinary in Florida for this time of year, with drier weather expected for Sunday and Memorial Day. Each day should see at least partial sunshine, with daytime highs forecast in the mid-70s- and 80s.