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Rain could dampen your star-spangled plans this weekend

By Hannah Gard and Haley Brink, CNN

The Fourth of July finally falls on a weekend and people are looking to get outdoors — but in some regions of the US, an umbrella will be on the packing list, while sunscreen and a way to cool down are on others.

The South is looking at showers throughout the weekend before a possible threat from Hurricane Elsa, while the Desert Southwest will continue to see monsoonal moisture. Across the country, the Northern Plains are taking the heat from the same system that shattered records in the Northwest this week.

Southern soaker

Beachgoers headed to the Gulf Coast are likely to see plenty of rainfall this holiday weekend. A strong cold front will push east and southeast through Monday, extending from New Mexico to the Carolinas, bringing with it showers and thunderstorms to much of the Southern US through the Fourth of July into early next week.

The heaviest showers will be in the Deep South, with areas like Houston and New Orleans seeing up to an inch and a half to two inches of rain. Showers extend from Texas to the Florida Panhandle as the cold front interacts with Gulf moisture.

“A messy weekend looks to be ahead, with multiple rounds of showers and storms potentially putting a damper on any outdoor Independence Day celebrations,” according to the National Weather Service in Houston.

States in the southern US will also have to keep a close eye on the forecast for Hurricane Elsa, for now, the storm is not expected to make landfall in the US this holiday weekend, but it could approach the Florida coast as early as Monday night.

Cool in the Northeast

The same cold front will bring rain chances to New England and the Northeast at the beginning of the weekend. Thunderstorms and showers pop up Saturday through the day, easing up overnight as the front moves northeastward out of the area, leaving a nicer day behind for the Fourth — just in time for fireworks. New England sees cooler, below-average temperatures in the 60s and 70s return with the cold front after a sweltering week of record-breaking highs.

“The frontal passage should bring temperatures to near or below normal into this weekend, especially for parts of the northeast and central High Plains where daytime highs on Friday could be 10 to 20 degrees below normal,” according to the Weather Prediction Center.

Firework shows will look much different to the west where a large high-pressure system will sit over the Midwest through most of the weekend bringing clearer skies and dry conditions, with temperatures in the 80s and 90s.

Dry and warm in the Midwest

Chicago and St. Louis will see sunny skies but hot temperatures with highs in the 90s. Much of the north-central Plains will experience similar above-average temperatures through the weekend.

“After a couple weeks of rather active weather across northern Illinois and northwest Indiana, we are finally able to string together a few relatively quiet days,” said the NWS in Chicago.

“Relief from the rain has finally arrived and it could not have been timed any better for a beautiful holiday weekend,” said the NWS in St. Louis.

A warm front might spring up showers and thunderstorms, some of which could be strong, in Minnesota and the Dakotas this weekend. Temperatures could hit the 100s and break records in the area Saturday, and temperatures will be in the 90s to low triple digits Sunday due to the large ridge that brought the historic heat wave to the Northwest this week.

“It will still be worth taking additional precautions against the heat with outdoor activities increasing for the holiday weekend, though the impacts will be limited,” advised the NWS in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Record heat persists in the Northwest

Record hot temperatures will persist across interior portions of the Northwest this weekend, as heat alerts remain in place through Sunday. While temperatures will not be as extreme as they were at the beginning of the week, dangerously hot afternoon temperatures up to 110 degrees are still possible across portions of Oregon, Idaho, and Montana.

This heat is being driven by an upper-level ridge of high pressure that has settled over the region. This high pressure causes the air to sink, in turn leading to clear skies. While these clear skies would make ideal conditions for firework viewing, the extreme heat and drought conditions have put fireworks on hold for many locations.

Fireworks are banned in numerous cities due to the drought, including Portland, Oregon, Yellowstone County, Montana, and Mandan City, North Dakota. All it would take is a single spark to ignite a new wildfire in these conditions.

Seattle continues to add to its 17-day dry streak and there is no rain in the forecast over the next several days. Elevated fire weather conditions will persist across portions of the Northwest through the weekend due to gusty winds and continued dry and hot conditions.

“Please do your part in preventing new fire starts, including fully extinguishing campfires, making sure trailer chains are not dragging and are secure, and obey local burn bans,” the National Weather Service office in Great Falls, Montana said on Friday.

Monsoon rain across the Southwest

One area that could see some welcome rain this holiday weekend is the Southwest, as the monsoon enhances the chance for scattered showers and storms. Any rain would be beneficial across this region as entire states continue to battle drought conditions.

“The monsoon is in full swing with daily rounds of showers and storms forecast going through at least the next seven days. The threat for locally heavy rainfall and flash flooding will be on the uptrend through the holiday weekend, especially in and near the mountains,” the NWS office in Albuquerque said on Friday.

Widespread rainfall totals of 1-2 inches are forecast across portions of New Mexico and Arizona but isolated totals up to 3 inches are possible with the more persistent storms through the weekend.

Temperatures will also be near normal, with highs in the 90s and lower 100s expected both Saturday and Sunday. Highs in the higher elevations will run slightly cooler in the 80s through the weekend.

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