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Snow, severe storms and triple-digit heat all in holiday weekend forecast

By Judson Jones, CNN Meteorologist

Many see Memorial Day weekend as the unofficial start of summer. But, if you are planning outdoor events, you may want to read this first.

Otherwise, you could find yourself overheated without the proper iced cocktail, trying to barbecue in winter weather conditions — or running for cover from what you might think is “an unexpected storm.”

The Weather Brief Newsletter subscribers got an early look at this weekend’s forecast. You could, too, by signing up to receive weekly emails here.

A late-season snow

More than a foot of snow could fall in portions of the US. But don’t expect to see many pictures of people grilling out on a carpet of fluffy white stuff.

The shin-deep snow will likely stick to the higher elevations (over 8,000 feet) in the northern Rockies.

“For those with holiday weekend plans, please plan accordingly for wet and raw conditions in the back country,” said the National Weather Service office in Missoula, Montana.

Most of the heavier snow will fall Sunday through Monday.

Sunday snow levels will lower to between 5,500 and 6,000 feet, the Missoula office forecast.

Expect cooler temperatures and wet conditions for the latter half of the weekend at lower elevations.

This includes the entire Northwest, where there will be cooler weather and precipitation from Portland, Oregon, to Fargo, North Dakota.

Western coastal areas will get the wet weather first starting Saturday — and it will slowly crawl east through the beginning of next week.

Triple-digit heat

In the eastern half of the country, most of this week’s soaking rain will finally push off the East Coast by midday Saturday. So, make sure your grill is tuned up, groceries ordered and iced drinks planned.

It will get sunny and HOT for most from Texas to Maine by the end of the weekend. A dome of high pressure will keep the skies clear, but will allow temperatures to creep up to well above average by Monday.

The worst of the heat will fall on Texas, where temperatures will climb into the 100s.

Check here to see how hot your city will be

Record high temperatures could even be in jeopardy across the Texas Panhandle, said the weather service in Amarillo.

To make matters worse, this region will dry out again and winds will pick up as the weekend goes on, elevating fire weather conditions once again. That’s terrible news for New Mexico, where wildfires continue to rage out of control.

The state’s largest fire on record, the Hermits Peak/Calf Canyon fire, has burned well over 310,000 acres. Another wildfire, the Black fire, has burned about 173,000 acres. Conditions have improved in the state over past couple of days but another round of dangerously windy and dry conditions will move in this weekend.

“Widespread critical fire weather conditions are expected Saturday,” said the weather service in Albuquerque.

There is a little hope for New Mexico, as the first substantial chance of afternoon rain showers in months could arrive in the middle of next week.

Repeat severe storms

Speaking of afternoon showers — severe storms are forecast for Saturday, Sunday and Monday along the boundary between the cooler air in the Northwest and the oppressive heat.

The northern Plains could see storms day after day this weekend.

“Confidence is increasing in significant severe (storms) for both Sunday and Monday for parts of the central and northern Great Plains into the Upper Midwest,” the Storm Prediction Center said Thursday.

People living in or near Sioux Falls in South Dakota, Omaha in Nebraska and Minneapolis should pay close attention to the weather this weekend and heed the warning issued by the weather service.

Risks include hail and strong winds. Some storms could be severe with the possibility of tornadoes.

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