Memorial Day misery as tornadoes and downpours are forecast


Millions of Americans are braced for a Memorial Day washout, with tornadoes and storms forecast from Colorado to Texas as dismal weather puts a dampener on the traditional start of the summer. 

Thunderstorms bringing rain and hail will hit much of the southern Plains on Monday, with downfalls of more than three inches possible in an area stretching from south-central Oklahoma to north-central Texas. 

The Big Bend is at the greater risk of destructive hail and tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service, which has issued an Enhanced Risk warning for severe thunderstorms on Monday. 

People visit the boardwalk as rain falls during Memorial Day weekend in Coney Island in New York Sunday, as forecasters predicted rain for much of the country throughout the three-day holiday weekend

Millions of Americans are braced for a Memorial Day washout, with tornadoes and storms forecast from Colorado to Texas (pictured is a rainy day in New York)

 Millions of Americans are braced for a Memorial Day washout, with tornadoes and storms forecast from Colorado to Texas (pictured is a rainy day in New York) 

Rain has already drenched much of the Northeast and Midwest, with parts of southwestern Kansas at risk of flash flooding. 

In Chicago, where Lake Michigan was supposed to be open to swimmers again for the first time since 2019, but many beaches had to be closed waves reached up to 11 feet high.

Northern New England and upstate New York are expected to be lashed by rain Sunday after previously enjoying dry and warn weather, with spotty showers also forecast for the Carolinas, the Gulf Coast, and southern Georgia.

Unseasonably low temperatures are expected Sunday in New England and Massachusetts, with temperatures 20 to 30 degrees below average. 

Highs are forecast to only reach the upper-50s as far south as Virginia. 

Fortunately, the low pressure system should begin to exit the Northeast on Memorial Day and lead to increasingly pleasant weather as we head into the beginning of June. 

Meanwhile, a building upper-level ridge over the western U.S. will likely lead to the hottest temperatures felt so far this year throughout the West. 

Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories have been issued for northern and central California, where triple digit high temperatures are forecast today and Monday. 

This is also likely to exacerbate the growing extreme and exceptional drought conditions found throughout the region.  

It comes as more than 40 million Americans are on the move, kicking off what has been described as the summer of ‘revenge travel’, with citizens planning to make up for lost time by hitting the road and taking to the skies.

Conditions were much better in Orlando, Florida, as millions of Americans were on the move for vacations and to visit family

Conditions were much better in Orlando, Florida, as millions of Americans were on the move for vacations and to visit family 

Those who remained in New York City’ Friday, however, were left cold and damp. On Coney Island, a few forlorn beachgoers were spotted braving the rain and low-hanging clouds in heavy coats on the famed boardwalk, where temperatures barely cracked 50 and gusty wind made it feel even colder.

Meanwhile, clouds and chilly temperatures hung over much of the Midwest, and hazardous conditions were forecast in the Great Plains, with rounds of thunderstorms stretching from eastern Colorado to West Texas predicted through Memorial Day.

But in Florida, the skies were clear and temperatures hit the low 90s. Hours after Universal Orlando dropped its indoor and ride mask requirement for vaccinated guests on Saturday morning, parkgoers were spotted enjoying barefaced freedom.

And in California, crowds flocked to the beaches as the sun came out. In Los Angeles – which was the global epicenter of the Covid crisis just months ago – thousands squeezed onto the Santa Monica boardwalk.

The dreary weather is throwing a wrench in what many will be their first fully-vaccinated holiday with friends and family.

Travel has surged for Memorial Day, with more than 1.9 million people passing through U.S. airports Friday.

The daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend, which would be the highest mark since the start of the pandemic in early March 2020.

At Miami International Airport, officials expected crowds equal to pre-pandemic levels. It was a similar story in Orlando, where airport traffic has reached 90 percent of 2019 levels as tourists flocked to theme parks that have recently loosened restrictions.

Along the Florida coasts and around Orlando, many hotels were booked solid through the weekend.

The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is anticipating hotel occupancy levels to surge even above pre-pandemic levels, the agency’s CEO Rolando Aedo told the Miami Herald.

More than 40 million Americans are on the move, kicking off what has been described as the summer of 'revenge travel', with citizens planning to make up for lost time by hitting the road and taking to the skies. Pictured: Grand Central Terminal in New York

More than 40 million Americans are on the move, kicking off what has been described as the summer of ‘revenge travel’, with citizens planning to make up for lost time by hitting the road and taking to the skies. Pictured: Grand Central Terminal in New York 

The visitors bureau projects countywide hotel occupancy to be as much as 8 percent higher on Saturday than it was on the same day in 2019.

‘We´ve gone through so many crises as a destination, and the trend has been fairly consistent,’ said Aedo. ‘We tend to outpace other destinations in recovery.’

But the crowds aren’t just heading to South Florida. The Orlando area is also booming with travelers as the major theme parks have loosened some of the COVID-19 restrictions in place since they reopened last summer.

‘Our Memorial Day holiday passenger forecast indicates that we are approaching 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, which is a testament to the resiliency of Central Florida,’ Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said in a news release.

‘A combination of factors including the vaccines, availability of seats into the market and pent-up demand all point to a potentially strong summer travel season.’

During last year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend, Orlando International Airport saw 45,415 departures, compared to an anticipated 300,000 departures this year, Brown said.

Rental cars are now scarce and expensive in most of Florida, after rental companies sold off inventory during the pandemic.

‘Most areas in Florida, they´re seeing high demand and we´re definitely expecting sellout areas in Orlando, Tampa area, St. Pete area,’ Jonathan Weinberg, the CEO and founder of AutoSlash.com, told Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.

Meanwhile, much of the Northeast is expected to experience cool temperatures and intermittent rain through Memorial Day. 

New York: Heavy rain hits a deserted Coney Island on Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn on Saturday

New York: Heavy rain hits a deserted Coney Island on Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn on Saturday

Chicago: Waves up to 11 feet high crash into the lakefront trail near 31st Street Beach on the South Side, Friday afternoon

Chicago: Waves up to 11 feet high crash into the lakefront trail near 31st Street Beach on the South Side, Friday afternoon

‘Showers and locally heavy rain will make it difficult to stay dry if spending time outdoors, with a stiff northeast wind making conditions feel even more uncomfortable,’ the NWS warned.

‘These gusty winds may also lead to coastal flooding from Long Island to the Delmarva Peninsula. Coastal Flood Watches and Advisories are in effect,’ the service said.

‘A low pressure system is forecast to eventually develop along the aforementioned frontal boundary and swing into New England on Monday, subsequently leading to much of the Mid-Atlantic enjoying a drier and pleasant Memorial Day.’

In Chicago, beaches were washed out by high waves on Friday, the first day the city was to reopen Lake Michigan to swimming since summer 2019.

Waves reached up to 11 feet high, closing many of the beaches that had been set to open for the first time since September 2, 2019.

A ‘beach hazards’ alert from the National Weather Service forecast ‘life-threatening’ swimming conditions through Saturday, when waves would lessen to 8 feet.

Chicago’s beach season typically runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, but the city had kept its 22 Lake Michigan beaches closed last summer as part of its COVID-19 precautions.

Mayor Lori Lightfoot had announced Wednesday that the city would reopen all beach amenities, including concessions.

But the weather service on Friday was telling people to stay away from the shoreline. The city also city shut down parts of its lakefront biking and pedestrian trail.

High winds off the lake caused a tree to fall on two cars traveling along Lake Shore Drive, according to Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.

A man who was in one of the cars, one of which was left mangled, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in good condition, Merritt said. It was not clear what kind of injuries he had.

In California, scorching heat is the concern, with Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories already issued across the Sacramento Valley and northern San Joaquin Valley for Sunday and Monday.

Highs are forecast to reach the upper-90s and triple digits on Sunday throughout much of the Desert Southwest and California’s Central Valley, the National Weather Service said.     

The high waves closed most Chicago beaches to swimming Friday, the first day they were to be reopened since closing over a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic

The high waves closed most Chicago beaches to swimming Friday, the first day they were to be reopened since closing over a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic

Waves reached up to 11 feet high, closing Lake Michigan beaches that had been set to open for the first time since 2019

Waves reached up to 11 feet high, closing Lake Michigan beaches that had been set to open for the first time since 2019



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