May cold

Tricia Frederick gathers some plants for her garden Friday at Whitney’s Farm in Cheshire. The Memorial Day weekend is shaping up to be the wettest, least springlike late May holiday in nearly 20 years.

The Memorial Day weekend, off to a cloudy, chilly start Friday, shapes up as the wettest, least springlike late May holiday since 2003, according to National Weather Service records.

Although the off-and-on rain over the next several days is badly needed, forecasters acknowledged, the timing of an approaching storm system from the Ohio Valley couldn’t be worse for Berkshire residents and visitors hoping to enjoy quality time in the great outdoors.

The steadiest and heaviest rain was expected Friday night into Saturday morning, said meteorologist Joe Villani at the government forecast office in Albany, N.Y. High temperatures through Sunday, only in the low- to mid-50s, will be well below normal for the end of May, when the average high at Pittsfield Municipal Airport is 70.

After rain tapers off Saturday afternoon, a brief spell of dry weather is likely at night until showers return Sunday, with chances increasing in the afternoon and evening.

On Memorial Day, some improvement is predicted, with partly sunny skies returning by midmorning,and temperatures rebounding into the 60s.

The rainfall total in Berkshire County for Friday to Monday is expected to top 1 inch, according to AccuWeather.com. Less than 3 inches has been recorded this month, compared with the May normal of 4.21 inches.

For the year, rainfall and melted snow total nearly 20 percent below average, based on records at Pittsfield’s airport going back to 1939.

Looking for a sunnier getaway this weekend? Forget the Cape and Islands, where a cold, windy rainstorm is forecast, resulting in a washout until late Sunday.

But, head north for several hours, and you’ll find a dry weekend and mostly sunny skies, though still cooler than normal for late spring. Best prospects for outdoor recreation are in northern Vermont and New Hampshire, with Saturday expected to be the best day of the weekend.