Dismal weather is putting a damper on Memorial Day Weekend festivities across much of the Northeast and Midwest, ruining the unofficial start of summer for millions.
Damp and dreary weather will persist across much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast through early Monday as a low pressure front stalls along the East Coast, the National Weather Service said in a bulletin on Saturday.
However, there are clearer skies in California and Florida – two popular destinations for Americans to travel to for the long weekend.
More than 40 million Americans are on the move, kicking off what has been described as the summer of ‘revenge travel’, with citizens planning to make up for lost time by hitting the road and taking to the skies.
Those who remained in New York City’, however, were left cold and damp. On Coney Island, a few forlorn beachgoers were spotted braving the rain and low-hanging clouds in heavy coats on the famed boardwalk, where temperatures barely cracked 50 and gusty wind made it feel even colder.
Meanwhile, clouds and chilly temperatures hung over much of the Midwest, and hazardous conditions were forecast in the Great Plains, with rounds of thunderstorms stretching from eastern Colorado to West Texas predicted through Memorial Day.
But in Florida, the skies were clear and temperatures hit the low 90s. Hours after Universal Orlando dropped its indoor and ride mask requirement for vaccinated guests on Saturday morning, parkgoers were spotted enjoying barefaced freedom.
And in California, crowds flocked to the beaches as the sun came out. In Los Angeles – which was the global epicenter of the Covid crisis just months ago – thousands squeezed onto the Santa Monica boardwalk.
California: Crowds flocked to the beaches as the sun came out in Los Angeles – which was the global epicenter of the Covid crisis just months ago
California: Thousands squeezed onto the famed Santa Monica boardwalk in Los Angeles
California: A Vietnam war veteran salutes as he places American flags at graves ahead of Memorial Day
Florida: Bikini clad beauties were ready to make the most of the warm weather and clear skies in Miami Beach
Florida: While much of the east and Midwest was lashed with rain, revelers at Miami Beach soaked up the sunshine
Washington state: While Seattle is usually beset by rain, it was warm and sunny in the city on Saturday
Florida: Hours after Universal Orlando dropped its mask requirement for vaccinated guests on Saturday, parkgoers were seen enjoying the newfound freedom and fine weather
New York: The boardwalk at Coney Island was nearly deserted on Saturday as cold and heavy rain ruined the Memorial Day Weekend for millions across the Northeast
New York: Temperatures barely cracked 50 and gusty wind made it feel even colder on Saturday
Chicago: Motorists head out for the holiday weekend under cloudy skies on Friday. AAA Travel predicts 37 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for the holiday weekend. Experts are predicting a summer of ‘revenge travel’ with vaccinated citizens taking to the road and sky
New York: Travelers are seen at John F. Kennedy (JFK) Airport ahead of Memorial Day weekend on Thursday
The dreary weather is throwing a wrench in what many will be their first fully-vaccinated holiday with friends and family.
Travel has surged for Memorial Day, with more than 1.9 million people passing through U.S. airports Friday.
The daily number was widely expected to cross 2 million at least once over the long holiday weekend, which would be the highest mark since the start of the pandemic in early March 2020.
At Miami International Airport, officials expected crowds equal to pre-pandemic levels. It was a similar story in Orlando, where airport traffic has reached 90 percent of 2019 levels as tourists flocked to theme parks that have recently loosened restrictions.
Along the Florida coasts and around Orlando, many hotels were booked solid through the weekend.
The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau is anticipating hotel occupancy levels to surge even above pre-pandemic levels, the agency’s CEO Rolando Aedo told the Miami Herald.
The visitors bureau projects countywide hotel occupancy to be as much as 8 percent higher on Saturday than it was on the same day in 2019.
Slide to view: The beaches at New York’s Coney Island (left) and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (right) are seen on Saturday
Florida: The beach is crowded early for the Memorial Day Weekend near the Cocoa Beach Pier on Friday afternoon
Las Vegas: Visitors wade in the lazy river as tourists flock to Las Vegas ahead of Memorial Day weekend on Thursday
Florida: Memorial Day crowds swarmed Miami Beach on Saturday for the holiday weekend
Florida: Revelers cruise the strip in Miami Beach under sunny skies as Memorial Day Weekend kicks off the start of summer
San Diego: Jaxon, left, takes a surfing lesson while his family visits the beach from Arizona on Friday
‘We´ve gone through so many crises as a destination, and the trend has been fairly consistent,’ said Aedo. ‘We tend to outpace other destinations in recovery.’
But the crowds aren’t just heading to South Florida. The Orlando area is also booming with travelers as the major theme parks have loosened some of the COVID-19 restrictions in place since they reopened last summer.
‘Our Memorial Day holiday passenger forecast indicates that we are approaching 90 percent of pre-pandemic levels, which is a testament to the resiliency of Central Florida,’ Phil Brown, Chief Executive Officer of the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority, said in a news release.
‘A combination of factors including the vaccines, availability of seats into the market and pent-up demand all point to a potentially strong summer travel season.’
During last year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend, Orlando International Airport saw 45,415 departures, compared to an anticipated 300,000 departures this year, Brown said.
Rental cars are now scarce and expensive in most of Florida, after rental companies sold off inventory during the pandemic.
‘Most areas in Florida, they´re seeing high demand and we´re definitely expecting sellout areas in Orlando, Tampa area, St. Pete area,’ Jonathan Weinberg, the CEO and founder of AutoSlash.com, told Spectrum News 13 in Orlando.
New York: Heavy rain hits a deserted Coney Island on Memorial Day weekend in Brooklyn on Saturday
A deserted ride runs empty on Saturday in Coney Island as dismal weather ruins the holiday weekend in New York
Crowds were scant on Coney Island as New York braced for bad weather extending through the holiday weekend
Bold beachgoers brave the foul weather on Saturday in Coney Island, where the high temp barely broke 50F
Normally crowded for the holiday weekend, Coney Island was a dismal ghost town Saturday amid the foul weather
Travelers hit the Staten Island Expressway as they make their way out of the city on Friday
Bad weather compound the holiday traffic jams for New Yorkers desperate to get out of the city for the long weekend
Motorists drive on the George Washington Bridge between Manhattan and New Jersey on Friday
Meanwhile, much of the Northeast is expected to experience cool temperatures and intermittent rain through Memorial Day.
‘Showers and locally heavy rain will make it difficult to stay dry if spending time outdoors, with a stiff northeast wind making conditions feel even more uncomfortable,’ the NWS warned.
‘These gusty winds may also lead to coastal flooding from Long Island to the Delmarva Peninsula. Coastal Flood Watches and Advisories are in effect,’ the service said.
‘A low pressure system is forecast to eventually develop along the aforementioned frontal boundary and swing into New England on Monday, subsequently leading to much of the Mid-Atlantic enjoying a drier and pleasant Memorial Day.’
In Chicago, beaches were washed out by high waves on Friday, the first day the city was to reopen Lake Michigan to swimming since summer 2019.
Waves reached up to 11 feet high, closing many of the beaches that had been set to open for the first time since September 2, 2019.
Chicago: Waves up to 11 feet high crash into the lakefront trail near 31st Street Beach on the South Side, Friday afternoon
The high waves closed most Chicago beaches to swimming Friday, the first day they were to be reopened since closing over a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic
Waves reached up to 11 feet high, closing Lake Michigan beaches that had been set to open for the first time since 2019
The tarp covers the field as the game between the Chicago White Sox and the Baltimore Orioles is cancelled due to weather at Guaranteed Rate Field on Friday in Chicago, Illinois. The game will be made up as part of a doubleheader Saturday
A ‘beach hazards’ alert from the National Weather Service forecast ‘life-threatening’ swimming conditions through Saturday, when waves would lessen to 8 feet.
Chicago’s beach season typically runs from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, but the city had kept its 22 Lake Michigan beaches closed last summer as part of its COVID-19 precautions.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot had announced Wednesday that the city would reopen all beach amenities, including concessions.
But the weather service on Friday was telling people to stay away from the shoreline. The city also city shut down parts of its lakefront biking and pedestrian trail.
High winds off the lake caused a tree to fall on two cars traveling along Lake Shore Drive, according to Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman.
A man who was in one of the cars, one of which was left mangled, was taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in good condition, Merritt said. It was not clear what kind of injuries he had.
In California, scorching heat is the concern, with Excessive Heat Warnings and Heat Advisories already issued across the Sacramento Valley and northern San Joaquin Valley for Sunday and Monday.
Highs are forecast to reach the upper-90s and triple digits on Sunday throughout much of the Desert Southwest and California’s Central Valley, the National Weather Service said.