Does it Always Rain on Memorial Day?

- Thursday, May 21, 2020
Does it Always Rain on Memorial Day?

by Ted Beuhner

I often get this question. I know it does not always rain on this holiday weekend, but like you, I was curious. We all tend to remember those soggy camping trips or when our outdoor activities got wet. Let’s take a look at all the Memorial Day Weekends this century going back to 2001 to address that question.

For the 19 year period, there were 7 entirely dry holiday weekends and 12 that had at least some rain in the Puget Sound area. The wettest year? That was 2010 when many places got close to a total of a half inch of rain that holiday weekend. It was a very cool weekend too with highs only in the mid-50s to lower 60s. The average high temperature during the last weekend of May is in the mid-60s. In contrast, there have been some really warm and dry Memorial Day weekends.

In 2005, the high temperatures got well into the 80s on two of the holiday weekend days under plenty of sunshine. 2017 was another 3-day weekend when that happened again with temperatures climbing into the 80s. Thanks to the influence of the Pacific Ocean, Western Washington tends to be temperate in the latter part of May. The typical Memorial Day weekend often has a morning clouds and afternoon clearing regime with high temperatures in the 60s. Those morning clouds just might squeeze out trace or only a few hundredths of an inch of rain. Ten of those 19 years so far this century had such a weather pattern.

What does this Memorial Day weekend weather have in store for the North Sound this year? At the time of this writing, it does look like the start of the 3-day weekend will involve morning marine clouds giving way to some afternoon sunshine Saturday with high temperatures well into the 60s. Then a weakening Pacific frontal system will spread some rain into the region later Sunday into Monday. So it appears the holiday weekend will offer a mix of dry and a little wet weather with seasonable temperatures – what may seem like a typical Memorial Day weekend.

But stay tuned since it is not unusual for an incoming weather system this time of year to weaken further and not produce much precipitation, revealing a reasonable 3-day holiday weekend. Memorial Day is a time to remember all who died while serving in the U.S. military to protect our freedom.

Historically, Memorial Day started as Decoration Day in the years following the Civil War and was held on May 30th. By the start of the 20th century, Decoration Day gradually became known as Memorial Day. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, establishing Memorial Day as the last Monday in May with the change effective in 1971. Because of the need to maintain social and physical distancing this Memorial Day, there will be no formal parades or other such events where many people gather. Yet at home as families, we can remember those who paid the ultimate price for our country.

Have a wonderful and safe Memorial Day


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