Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of camping season, and Idahoans take the three-day weekend as an opportunity to get outside.
This year, Mother Nature has other plans.
A storm system that rolled into the Treasure Valley on Thursday evening likely will stretch late into next week, dropping inches of rain at lower elevations and possibly snow in the mountains, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Cantin.
The Boise branch of the weather service recorded nearly a quarter-inch of rain Thursday evening into Friday, a rare event for this time of year. Showers will continue on and off through the day on Friday.
“Saturday will be the jewel of the weekend,” Cantin told the Statesman in a phone interview.
Temperatures will cool down after a weekend in the 80s. Expect highs in the mid- to low 60s on Saturday, Cantin said.
The rain will resume Sunday, ushering in next week with chilly temperatures in the mid- to upper 50s.
“Next week we’re going to get more rainfall,” Cantin said.
That precipitation could turn to snow in the mountains, he said. Forecasts call for 1 to 2 inches of snow above 6,000 feet in elevation. That could pose a problem for campers headed to popular spots in the surrounding mountain ranges.
“The long-range outlooks are indicating we’ll see cooler and unsettled weather into next weekend,” Cantin said. “Right now it’s looking like Memorial Day weekend might be affected.”
Those forecasts still could change as the holiday weekend draws nearer, Cantin said.
“If folks have outdoor plans, be careful,” he advised. “It can be wet and snowy up high.”
According to Cantin, the same storm is responsible for a winter storm warning issued for the Sierra Nevada mountains in North-Central California.
In a Wednesday news release, officials with the Sawtooth National Forest said many campgrounds in the area will only be open for Memorial Day weekend if weather permits. Several other sites were closed or had restricted camping spaces due to flooding or snow.
Linda Steinhaus, spokeswoman for the Boise National Forest, said Wednesday that a few spots in the forest were “touch-and-go.”
“Anything above 5,000 feet, the storm could drop more snow,” she said. “(Our rangers) are scrambling.”