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  • Tim McGill

Memorial Day Weekend Forecast Coming Into Focus

Cool Start But Milder By Monday

We're getting close enough to the weekend to have some confidence in the forecast and for the most part it looks good. Before I get to those specifics I thought we should look at what we see typically for the holiday weekend.

High temperatures in late May on average are in the middle 70s. Looking back nearly 150 years shows the most frequent range of high temperatures for Memorial Day is in the 70° to 79° range. The hottest Memorial Day on record occurred in 2012 when the high hit 95°. The coldest Memorial Day fell on May 30th, 1889 when the high was just 42°.

The National Weather service has plotted out the frequency distribution of precipitation for Chicago on the holiday. Memorial Day is usually a dry holiday. Their dataset shows that the most frequent amount of precipitation recorded on Memorial Day is 0.00”. Just over half of all Memorial days reported no rain. After that, the next most frequent range is the 0.02” to 0.25” range. The wettest Memorial Day on record was on May 28th, 1984 when 1.00” of rain fell.

So most Memorial Days see highs in the 70s with little or no rainfall. This Memorial Day looks to be no different. The high on Monday should be in the middle 70s and no rain (as of today) is expected.

Here is my sneak peek forecast for the weekend:

Friday: Mostly cloudy, on & off showers, breezy & cool High: 55°

Saturday: Mostly sunny High: 65 (55 lakeside)

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny High: 73 (66 lakeside)

Memorial Day: Partly to mostly sunny High: 76 (68 lakeside)

Dramatic Drop Right Around The Corner

Monday's high hit 90°. That was the hottest we have been in nearly nine months. The last time we had a high of 90° or more was late August last year. The average first high of 90° or more since 2000 has occurred on June 5th so we were nearly two weeks ahead of schedule.

Our summery stretch continues today with the 6th straight day with highs at least in the 80s. That is the longest stretch of 80s or warmer since September last year. Today's highs with the help of gusty southwest winds should climb into the middle 80s.

The Storm Prediction Center has placed most of the Chicago area in the marginal risk for severe weather for today through tonight. A marginal risk means the area has a risk of "severe storms of either limited organization and longevity, or very low coverage and marginal intensity." A cold front potentially could produce a strong line of thunderstorms late tonight into tomorrow morning (between midnight and 5 AM) that could whip up some damaging winds.

Winds will be stronger today especially during the afternoon and evening when gusts could reach to near 40 mph. Winds shift from the southwest today to the northwest tomorrow to bring in slightly cooler air (highs in the lower 80s as opposed to today's middle 80s). By Wednesday night the winds shift off the lake to set us up for a relatively chilly end to the week. The highest threat of rain through Thursday is late today into Wednesday morning.

A dramatic drop in temperatures is coming. Thursday's highs slide into the 60s and I'm expecting just 50s for highs by Friday. A brisk breeze off the lake with occasional showers will add insult to injury. We bounce back slowly but surely with 70s for highs Sunday and on Memorial Day. The meteogram below considers several different model forecasts of temperatures.

To day we will be chilly by Friday is not an exaggeration. The GFS model is suggesting we could even fall into the 40s by Friday afternoon. That is a nearly 40° drop from today's expected highs.

The temperature anomaly forecast shows the core of the anomalously cool air will be centered over the Midwest by then. Friday afternoon's temperatures will be around 20° to 30° below average.

Hope For Help With The Drought?

For an upate on the drought you can check out my post from Friday. Nearly 3% of northern Illinois is in a severe drought. O'Hare is now down just over three inches of rain below average for May and a whopping 7.29" below average since March 1st. If we didn't receive any more rainfall this month it would end up being the 7th driest May on record.

The GFS model offers some hope for help with the drought. A spotty shower is possible today but a better chance for rain comes starting this evening and overnight into Wednesday morning. Some significant rain could also come with occasional showers on Friday.

The GFS model total rainfall forecast through Saturday morning has a range of rainfall in northern Illinois. Our far southern suburbs and northwest Indiana would see the lightest totals with around three quarters of an inch of rain expected there. Chicago and our western suburbs would receive about an inch of rain if this verifies and our northern suburbs nearly an inch and a half.

Dropping Back To Near Normal

We're in the middle of the longest streak of consecutive days with highs in the 80s since August last year but the long range forecasts are indicating we may cool back down to near normal. The 6-10 day forecast favors us returning to about average temperatures overall from May 30th through June 3rd. The 8-14 day temperature probability forecast keeps us near normal overall from June 1st through June 7th. Average highs for this period are in the lower to middle 70s.

The even longer range Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) temperature anomaly forecast is favoring the Chicago area for near normal temperatures for the middle of next month. The average highs for this period are in the upper 70s to lower 80s. The temperature anomaly forecast for the week ending June 11th has us outlooked for about average temperatures overall. The forecast for the following week ending on June 18th also has Chicago outlooked for about average temperatures overall.

Precip Pattern Headed In The Right Direction

Still no signs of any real drought-busting type of rain for the next several days but we may start off June with a more active pattern. The latest 6-10 day forecast has Chicago favored for about average precipitation from May 30th through June 3rd but the longer range 8-14 day forecast has us favored for above average precipitation overall from June 1st through June 7th.

Here is my 7 day forecast:

Today: Partly to mostly cloudy, gusty winds, spotty shower possible High: 85

Wednesday: Sct. showers mainly early, then partly to mostly sunny Low: 67 High: 82

Thursday: Partly to mostly cloudy, showers mainly late Low: 54 High: 65 (58 lakeside)

Friday: Mostly cloudy, scattered showers, breezy & cool Low: 50 High: 55

Saturday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 49 High: 65 (cooler lakeside)

Sunday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 51 High: 73 (cooler lakeside)

Monday: Partly to mostly sunny Low: 54 High: 76 (cooler lakeside)



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