Weather Highlights of Past Memorial Day Weekends
Chances are good that rain will fall on at least one of the days of the three-day Memorial Day weekend, with Memorial Day (Monday) being the day most likely to receive significant rain; however, one-third of the weekends have been completely rain-free. Weekends averaging a high of 85° or warmer have occurred in six years: 1981, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1999 and 2016. Readings in the 90s have been rare, occurring six times on Saturday, but never on Sunday or on Memorial Day (observed on Monday since 1971). On the flip side of the coin, Memorial Day weekends in 2003 and 2021 were the dreariest and chilliest, with the average high temperature only in the upper 50s over the three days.
What follow are weather highlights from previous Memorial Day weekends:
- 1971 (May 29-31) - Conditions during the first three-day Memorial Day weekend were not very good. Rain fell on Sunday and Monday mornings, and Sunday saw a high/low of just 62°/54°, nine degrees below average.
- 1972 (May 27-29) - The weekend started off chilly with a low of 47°, but Sunday and Monday were five degrees warmer than average, with highs of 81° and 78°, under sunny skies.
- 1973 (May 26-28) - Skies were overcast all three days and temperatures well below average. The weekend's average high/low of 63°/51° was nine degrees below average and would be the chilliest Memorial Day weekend until 2003. And the morning of Memorial Day was rainy, with 0.59" measured.
- 1974 (May 25-27) - Memorial Day had a high of only 55°, nineteen degrees below average, and the chilliest high temperature on Memorial Day in the Monday holiday period.
- 1975 (May 24-26) - The high on Saturday was a sizzling 93°, but a cold front moved through during the evening and Sunday afternoon's temperatures were only in the upper 50s.
- 1977 (May 28-30) - After a high of 92° on Saturday, temperatures were twenty degrees cooler on Sunday and Monday. Showers fell for three hours at around daybreak on Memorial Day.
- 1980 (May 24-26) - After a hot Friday (high of 90°) the weekend gradually cooled down, but afternoon temperatures were still warmer than average: 86°-84°-76°.
- 1981 (May 23-25) - Sunny and summery all three days, with highs of 78°-86°-87°.
- 1984 (May 26-28) - For the second year in a row more than an inch of rain fell on Memorial Day (Monday). Last year it fell in the early morning and evening. This year it fell in the afternoon. The weekend started out summery as the high of 85° was the warmest reading of the month.
- 1987 (May 23-25) - Memorial Day was very cool, with a high of just 63°, eleven degrees cooler than average. The holiday came one week too early as the following weekend had temperatures in the 90s.
- 1991 (May 25-27) - Highs of 93°-81°-89° made this the warmest Memorial Day weekend (until 1999), eleven degrees above average. At 93°, Saturday's afternoon high tied 1975 as the hottest temperature during any Memorial Day weekend in the 1971-2020 period. And Monday's high of 89° made it the hottest Memorial Day since 1969 (before it was a Monday holiday). Finally, an inch of rain fell Monday night between 11 PM and 3 AM, the first rain in two weeks.
- 1992 (May 23-25) - A real Jekyl & Hyde weekend. Saturday had mid-summer conditions with a high of 92°. Then Sunday was the transition day as a strong cold front pushed through in early afternoon and temperatures plummeted from the low 80s to 45° by midnight. Monday felt more like October with overcast skies and a high of just 61°. The AM low of 44° was the second chilliest reading on Memorial Day (only 1880 was colder, at 42°). In the course of the weekend highs went from 19 above average to 13 below average.
- 1999 (May 29-31) - One of the all-time great holiday weekends, and the warmest Memorial Day weekend on record. Each day had a high in the upper 80s under clear skies and with low humidity. Monday's high of 89° tied 1991 for the warmest Memorial Day of the 1971-2020 period.
- 2001 (May 26-28) - For the first time since 1990 rain fell on Saturday of the holiday weekend. And although very little rain fell, this year's holiday was distinguished as being the only one of the 1971-2020 period to report rain on each day: 0.06" on Saturday, 0.08" on Sunday and 0.05" on Monday.
- 2003 (May 24-26) - Quite a dismal weekend, the coolest in the years since 1971 (until 2021), and the second rainiest Memorial Day ever (1.28"). All three days had gray skies and cool temperatures, ten degrees below average. The high on Monday was just 56°, eighteen degrees below average, making it the second chilliest Memorial Day (one degree above 1974).
- 2006 (May 27-29) - For the first time in seven years the temperature on Memorial Day was in the 80s.
- 2010 (May 29-31) - This was the third year in a row in which no rain fell on any day of the three-day weekend. High temperatures were warmer each day: 77° on Saturday; 84° on Sunday; 86° on Monday.
- 2011 (May 28-30) - For the sixth year in a row, the holiday weekend was a warm one. It was also the sixth year in a row in which the high on Memorial Day rose into the 80s. The average high during these six years was 84°, ten degrees above average.
- 2012 (May 26-28) - For the seventh consecutive year Memorial Day had a high in the 80s. This year's high of 89° tied that of 1999 and 1991 for the hottest reading on Memorial Day since 1969's 91° (when it was not a Monday holiday, but fell on 5/30). The entire weekend was eleven degrees warmer than average. Memorial Day also had the year's first low in the 70s, one week earlier than average and the earliest since 2007 (when it occurred on May 26).
- 2013 (May 25-27) - After starting raw and damp on Saturday (high of just 55°), conditions steadily improved, with Sunday being ten degrees warmer (mid-60s) under partly cloudy skies; and then Memorial Day saw the temperature rise another seven degrees under clear skies. However, because of Saturday's chill (the coldest day of any Memorial Day weekend), the 3-day weekend ended up as the second chilliest since Memorial Day became a Monday holiday in 1971.
- 2015 (May 23-25) - It was a mostly sunny and dry weekend with temperatures warming each day: 70°/49° on Saturday, 81°/56° on Sunday and 85°/64° on Monday. This was the ninth year of the last ten to have temperatures in the 80s on Memorial Day. Memorial Day this year was nearly identical to that of last year except for the fact that the high was one degree cooler.
- 2016 (May 28-30) - Conditions all weekend were summer-like, with highs of 92°, 87° and 82°. Based on the average high temperature, this was the third warmest Memorial Day weekend, after 1999 and 1991. However, based on mean temperature this was the warmest of them all as morning lows were four degrees milder than the other two years. And although Memorial Day was the second wettest on record, the 1.65" of rain that poured down (from remnants of tropical storm Bonnie) came before daybreak, but the daylight hours were dry (but sticky, with a dew point around 70°), with a mix of sun and clouds.
- 2017 (May 27-29) - High temperatures were below average each day, but especially on Memorial Day (71°-71°-61°). This was the coolest high on the holiday since 2003 (the high actually occurred shortly after midnight, with afternoon temperatures only in the upper 50s). The cool conditions were accompanied by showers in the morning.
- 2018 (May 26-28) - Saturday was sunny and hot, with a high of 89°, but was followed by fall-like conditions on Sunday and Monday, with a breeze out of the northeast, overcast skies and afternoon temperatures in the 50s on 5/27 and the 60s on Memorial Day.
- 2019 (May 25-27) - Both Saturday and Sunday had sunny skies through mid-afternoon, then clouds gathered; Sunday's clouds produced heavy showers between 5:30-6:30 (0.20" was measured). Before Sunday's showers the day had the warmest reading of the year so far; its high of 86° was fifteen degrees warmer than Saturday's. Memorial Day had optimal conditions, with wall-to-wall sunshine, comfortable humidity and a high of 80°. (This was the first time this year with back-to-back highs in the 80s.)
2020 (May 23-25) - The weekend began with a hard rain late in the morning on Saturday. The 0.65" that fell (most of it between 11 AM and noon), not only made it the rainiest day of the month, but the rainiest Saturday of Memorial Day weekend in nearly 40 years (when 0.68" fell in 1982). The three-day weekend nearly became the third to have every day with a high below 70°, but the temperature rose to 71° on Memorial Day.
2021 (May 29-31) - This was the chilliest three-day Memorial Day weekend on record. Although Memorial Day was eight degrees cooler than average (high/low of 70°/49°), it felt summer-like compared to Saturday and Sunday, which were overcast, rainy and very cool, with each day having a high/low of just 51°/47°. (And the sun broke out Monday afternoon.) This was just the second Memorial Day weekend to report measurable rain on each day (joining 2001), as 0.46” fell on Saturday, 0.89” on Sunday, and 0.02” fell in the wee hours of Monday morning.
2022 (May 28-30) - Despite receiving buckets of rain in less than an hour from a severe thunderstorm in the early afternoon on Saturday, the weekend , overall, had very pleasant conditions, with plentiful sunshine beginning mid-afternoon on Saturday and then wall-to-wall sun on Sunday and Monday. Weekend temperatures were slightly above average, with the weekend's high/low averaging 78°/62°. Memorial Day's high of 84° was the warmest high temperature on the holiday in seven years. And it was the fifth year in a row in which no rain fell.
2023 (May 27-29) - It was a beautiful weekend with each day having sunny skies and similar, slightly above average temperatures. The high/low on Saturday was 78°/56° and was followed by identical highs/lows of 79°/59° on Sunday and Monday. Memorial Day differed from Sat/Sun by having breezy conditions.
how often does a Memorial Day weekend occur where none of the three days hit 70°? and what years have experienced this kind of a MDW?
Posted by: William | 05/23/2020 at 04:45 PM
It's happened twice - in 1974 (highs of 69-67-55) and in 2003 (56-62-56).
Posted by: Rob | 05/23/2020 at 11:09 PM
Did it rain Memorial day 1975
Posted by: Scott | 05/26/2020 at 07:48 AM
No. Nor was there any measurable rain between 5/22-29 (Memorial Day was 5/26).
Posted by: Rob | 05/26/2020 at 09:55 AM
Kind of strange that no rain fell on MDW in 1975, especially since this happened during the spring/summer season. During this time of year, a cold front cutting into a hot and humid air mass (causing a noticeable drop in humidity and temperature) is often inevitable that some or a lot of rain will fall.
Posted by: William | 05/27/2020 at 04:56 PM
What was high temp and low temp Memorial day 29
1975? I remember l was at my friend's house in South Orange NJ I think the sun came out about 4 in afternoon briefly
Posted by: Scott Koenig | 09/16/2020 at 04:14 PM
Hi Scott, the high/low on Memorial Day that year was 73/54, which was a few degrees cooler than average.
Posted by: rob | 09/17/2020 at 09:29 AM
This has to be the coldest Memorial day weekend I remember
Posted by: Scott Koenig | 05/30/2021 at 10:02 AM
Yep, it should easily come in as the chilliest 3-day Memorial Day weekend on record - five years after the warmest.
Posted by: Rob | 05/30/2021 at 02:37 PM