The dismal, dank Memorial Day weekend has been one for the record books. With exquisitely poor timing, a pair of storm systems made it feel like March rather than May in the Berkshires.
Saturday’s high temperature of only 46 at Pittsfield Municipal Airport smashed the previous coolest high for the date, 53, which was set in 1936 according to the National Weather Service’s database.
Overall, the three-day weekend is likely to be the wettest and coldest for the end of May since 2001.
In addition to the areawide, unseasonable chill and rain, some of the highest elevations in the Northeast received a fresh coating of slushy snow to start the holiday weekend. Up to 3 inches were recorded at the summit of Stratton Mountain Resort, elevation 3,940 feet, and an inch or two seen via a live webcam feed at Mount Snow in Stowe, Vermont (elevation, 3,586). Stratton had to cancel gondola rides, mountain biking and yoga sessions.
“One out-of-place storm in May isn’t always unusual, but to see one this late in the month is a pretty uncommon occurrence,” said Andrew Kimiecik, communications specialist for the resort. “It’s spring in New England, you’ve got to be ready for anything.”
For the work and school week ahead starting Tuesday, a gradual warmup and partly sunny skies will send thermometers into the low 70s by Wednesday — normal for the beginning of June — and then above 80 by the end of the week. There are chances for showers Wednesday into Friday, but next weekend looks dry and pleasantly warm.
The Climate Prediction Center’s extended outlook for New England and upstate New York from June 4-12 suggests a dry spell with temperatures well above normal.
“The first weekend in June is looking much more summerlike,” said Tyler Roys of AccuWeather.com. “Heat building in the West and, by then, into the Plains and Midwest, will finally spread the rest of the way east.”
An especially bad tree pollen season that began a month ago should ease following more than an inch of rain in the Berkshires. According to Tufts Medical Center, grass pollen prevails from June until later in the summer.
Meanwhile, people with severe allergies can find relief by using masks, said Dr. Caroline Sokol, an allergist at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Nationally, the dome of hot air hovering above much of the West will lead to the highest temperatures of the year so far. The strengthening high pressure area parked just west of Eureka, California, will send temperatures soaring from central part of the state through all of Oregon, Washington, east into Idaho and California, according to AccuWeather.com
The only areas to be spared will be directly along the Pacific coast. Excessive heat warnings and advisories have been issued for the rest of northern and central California. At least through Thursday, daytime highs will be 15 to 25 degrees above normal, strengthening the already extreme and exceptional drought conditions and increasing wildfire risks. Air conditioning demands on the power grid will skyrocket as temperatures soar.
More severe weather and flash flooding is forecast for the central and southern Plains through Tuesday.
Partly to mostly cloudy skies with daily afternoon showers and thunderstorms will cover Florida all week, with highs in the low- to mid-80s.
Information from the Boston Globe was included in this report.