Memorial Day 2023 Weekend Forecast: Mix of sun clouds; showers, storms possible

As the old adage goes "everybody's working for the weekend"…but that is doubly true when that weekend is a holiday one. Memorial Day weekend is a big one as well. 

Considered the "unofficial start of summer" for most as pools across the region open and many run off for that first escape to the local beaches. Would you be surprised to hear that the holiday weekend brings our next chance for some showers and storms? 

Perhaps you would not be. Of the twenty weekends of 2023 so far, fifteen of them have seen precipitation fall on at least one of the two weekend days, including every weekend in the month of May so far. With that fact, you might be surprised to hear that if May ended today, it would be the second driest in D.C. history, as less than half-an-inch of rain has fallen this entire month. 

Whether or not it will rain this weekend though is still not set in stone. Forecasters are watching a feature known as an "Omega Block" that will setup across the continental United States during the second half of this week, named so because it buckles the jetstream in the shape of the Greek letter "omega". 

Such a pattern brings strong, summer like heat to the center of the county. Where 80s and even some 90s will be possible through the Plains states. Meanwhile, it will bring below normal temperatures to those of us that live in the East. That does not mean it will be chilly however, just looking at highs in the 70s, as opposed to 80s or even 90s more typical of what one might expect for Memorial Day weekend. 

While the temperatures are easier to predict, what is a bit harder is whether or not we are looking at showers or storms interrupting our weekend plans. The thing about Omega Block patterns is that weather models are notoriously poor at forecasting the movement of the upper lows in such a pattern. This is important, because the areas closest to these features will see the most unsettled conditions, the best chance for showers and thunderstorms. 

Earlier this week, weather models were in pretty good agreement that both Sunday and Monday would each contain the greatest risk for scattered afternoon showers and storms. As the week has gone on however, models have been showing more disagreement, with some showing a completely dry solution. For example, above you see the American Model clearly showing some shower and thunderstorm risk during the afternoon. 

Contrast this with the European Model for the exact same time, which is keeping the shower/storm risk confined mostly to the Carolinas. So which will be correct? While we can not say for certain, historically the European has been the more accurate model at this range in the forecast. 

You take into account we have also had a very dry May, and that the D.C. area is running nearly six inches below normal, this tells you that the pattern this year so far has had a tendency to lean in the drier direction. So our forecast will likely hang a little closer to the European than the American solution, though we will be carefully monitoring both for shifts and changes as the weekend approaches. 

For those of you heading to the beaches, the good news is that we do not expect any day to be a washout this holiday weekend. We think you'll be able to get plenty of beach time in. Similar to here in D.C. the best chances of showers interrupting your beach plans will come on Sunday and Monday. Another certainty is that it will be noticeably cooler at the beaches then areas west of the Chesapeake Bay. 

This time of year, ocean temperatures remain very cool, only in the lower to middle 60s according to the latest buoy data. As the interior warms into the 70s each afternoon, the difference between the land and ocean temperatures will cause a sea breeze to kick up each afternoon, so expect things to be a little breezy along the beaches. Most of the weekend will be spent with highs near 70°. 

The Fox 5 Weather Team will continue to monitor the latest models and adjust the forecast as needed heading into the big holiday weekend. Continue to follow for the latest!