The 4th of July weekend is approaching and most of the United States will see a chance of rain through Monday. As airports fill with the highest number of travelers in years, widespread showers and thunderstorms are likely to impact air travel in some areas, causing delays and cancellations.
The southern United States will see the most exceptional rain, with the highest chances on Saturday. The Northeast will see thunderstorms during peak weekend travel on Friday and Saturday afternoons. And besides monsoon thunderstorms, dry conditions creating severe drought in the southwest will pose a threat to wildfires.
Here’s what to expect and when.
The cloud cover and storms will bring cooler temperatures for many, which is a big relief for those still recovering from the massive June heat wave.
But that cooler air brings the occasional chance of rain and thunderstorms, which could impact travel in parts of western New York and Pennsylvania early in the weekend.
“As colder air advances, thunderstorms will develop, creating a risk of lightning, gusty winds and even some flight delays,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.
Parts of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York have a marginal risk (level 1 in 5) of thunderstorms, wind and hail on Friday.
On Saturday, the weather system pushes further east, creating a slight (level 2 out of 5) risk of thunderstorms for eastern New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC and parts of New Jersey.
Flight delays at busy airports like New York, Chicago and Detroit are all possible from Friday. Airports across the United States are already reporting high customer volumes they haven’t seen since before the pandemic and are already reducing some of their flights.
The weather will likely add to the misery of already expected delays.
Fortunately, these storms are expected in the afternoon, so early flights will have a chance of being on time. Later in the day, storms are more likely to create travel delays and headaches.
By Sunday, the rain is dissipating from the northeast and cool, dry air is building up, according to Myers.
The same cannot be said for the southeast, where the chance of rain extends into Monday.
The southern United States will see the most humidity throughout the weekend, including popular Independence Day destinations like Atlanta, Houston and New Orleans.
Atlanta, the world’s busiest airport, could see “Mother Nature’s fireworks” as thunderstorms and rain are likely Saturday through Monday. Delays and cancellations are expected as storms move through Georgia.
The Atlanta Weather Service office says the main threats in the coming days are severe storms, heavy rain, gusty winds and frequent lightning. Up to two inches of rain is expected over the weekend, and fireworks may rain down.
Atlanta-based Delta announced a July 1-4 travel waiver so customers can reschedule flights after the holidays.
“We are providing more flexibility for customers to make changes to their flight schedule ahead of the busy 4th of July holiday weekend as we expect to carry customer volumes over the weekend not seen since before the pandemic. “said Delta’s website.
Residents of New Orleans and Houston should prepare for a wet start to the weekend.
A tropical disturbance will bring heavy rain through Saturday, where rain totals can reach up to six inches, according to the Houston Weather Service.
The heat returns on Sunday, making for a clear, warm end to the holiday weekend. Something the rest of the state and the Southwest know all too well.
The western United States remains mostly clear for the holiday weekend, creating the lowest risks of travel delays and cancellations. But parts of the southwest are in desperate need of rain.
A severe drought in the southwestern United States has created dry, fire-prone conditions. Some areas have implemented burning bans to prevent wildfires caused by the use of fireworks.
“In most western states, the drought is so severe that some fireworks are being canceled again this year,” Myers said. “The ground and vegetation are so dry that a single spark could start a fire.”
Flagstaff in northern Arizona will hold a laser show to avoid fire hazards. The region has already experienced severe forest fires this year.
Occasional monsoon thunderstorms will crop up over the weekend over the Arizona-New Mexico border, creating a slight risk of flash flooding for wildfire scorch scars.
California will have the best fireworks views this weekend with very clear conditions Friday through Monday. But drought is gripping southern California, and the National Weather Service in Los Angeles is warning residents to exercise caution with fireworks.
Colorado and eastern Utah are expected to receive the heaviest precipitation through Monday. Thunderstorm chances heat up in the afternoon Friday through Sunday, which could slow travel in Denver. Monday appears to be Colorado’s clearest day.
Cool temperatures will take over from Saturday to Monday in the northwest. Oregon and Washington may see a few scattered showers but will have mostly dry holidays.